NeoLiberalism encourages friendship by audit. Also, I miss iCarly.
American NeoCulturalism changes the affective circuitry of our decisions. For instance, let’s say Piper donates $19 to the ASPCA & then posts the donation on social media (which most sites will encourage you to do via a ‘share with friends’ prompt). In publicly broadcasting the donation, the seemingly altruistic act (or at least an act that wouldn’t generally be materially self-serving in any anticipatorily tangible way in the pre iPhone/ Social Media world) becomes a means in which Piper augments her social capital.
If the ASPCA had not been considered successful, well known, or recognized, Piper would’ve donated to an organization with more followers & clout within the demographic cohort that would provide her the best return on her investment.
To be clear, her investment is $19 & an instagram story about the $19 #NoFilter
Would Piper tag any friends in the story? Perhaps the friends with enough followers that if they shared her story it would gain even greater traction.
Stated succinctly, #NeoLiberalism encourages friendship by audit.
In the Social Media Stock Market currencies of Likes/Followers/DMs etc, Piper is excelling at product maximization. The writers of iCarly were modern-day prophets, though I’m sure they never imagined the monetization of our social architecture — whether in actual dollars or in self-commoditization via social media — would define the social fabric of #Millenials & #iGen in just 10–15 years.
(This was just kind of stream of consciousness — consider it a draft of an eventual longer piece)
NeoLiberalism: Virtue Signaling as Greenwashing
NeoLiberalism & Transactional Morality: A #GamerGirl Story
Same-Race Bae: “I posted a black square & even included a 5-sentence post in time for my performance of activism to accrue additional likes/followers in June 2020 than I received in June 2019. The exchange rate of my awokeningness was amplified by the fact that several of my subsequent stories involved pics of me at the beach. I mean, I usually never say anything about Elf Lives Matter, but the climate this June meant that speaking up wouldn’t hurt me with my core audience. In fact, summer 2020 was perhaps the greatest period in social media history for transactional morality.
On Twitter I posted about some word called reparations & received inordinate amounts of attention for discovering it. I mean, some of my Elf guildmates have brought it up every now & then over the years, but I felt like gossiping about Keeping Up With The AliaPohs was more interesting (gamers must be level 60 before talking with Khloe AliaPoh… yes, her name is Khloe).
I even did a video with fellow magician avatars, including my fran Karen, in which I stated that “I Take Responsibility” — it was truly a peak virtue signaling moment. After that we did a soda commercial with one of the younger AliaPoh sisters which ended racism.”
Anywho, all my virtue signaling this summer meant I had earned a moral license to vote for the person who lost the Hindsight2020 Presidential Election, despite the fact that I had 4 years of evidence that he’s a prejudiced dumpsterfire with no respect for our core ideals that the rest of the world is relieved we got rid of following several years of being embarrassed for us.
Friends can agree to disagree, even though voting for someone like that was clearly not in the interests of my Asian, Hispanic, & Elf friends. Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to say Elf; I meant Elezen-Eorzean.
What? Saying ‘Elf’ isn’t a bad word? Those people are okay with being called Black? That’s a relief.
As a Hyur avatar, I try to remain cognizant of my privilege in the Magic Forest. As such, I sometimes feel weird when saying words like:
Blacklist (vs. Block List; Whitelist vs. Allow List)
Black magic (vs. Blood Magic)
Woke capitalism even inspired a sports team in Washington to change their name to the Fighting Elves.”
#GamerGirl: “That name is as prejudiced as their old one. That’s not the new name.”
Same Race Bae: “Oh, I meant the Washington Fighting Irish.”
GamerGirl: “…kae. Why do you like me Same-Race Bae?”
Same-Race Bae: “I have a fetish for people of the same race. You’re my type/preference. I always wanted to try one of you, because you’re similar to me… because we’re the same race.”
#GamerGirl: “Well, in defense of your profitable, trademarked empathy, with a distribution cost of $0 thanks to social media…
I’m ultimately thankful for it. Given how socially distanced we’ve all been this year of years, the NeoLiberal Awokening this summer was the single most critical mass-event to replenish the aura of diversity that was slowly fraying just a few months into quarantine.
So what if Piper gave $19 to the ASPCA & then paraded it around on social media to maximize the profits of her commodified morality. The ASPCA still received $19.
So what if some celebs made a video saying I Take Responsibility; that video & news pieces on it were circulating on the social accounts of people who collectively have hundreds of millions of social media followers. That meant the conversation continued — it meant WNBA athletes in Orlando wearing #SayHerName (Breonna Taylor), it meant teams on national television taking a knee with 7 red marks on the back of their shirt, & it meant watching a WNBA/NBA bubble that adapted more intelligently against COVID than the White House playing games on hardwood engraved with Black Lives Matter.
George Floyd’s murder, and the historic discussion about race, colorism, & intersectionality that followed, contributed to President Joe Biden’s & Vice President Kamala Harris’ victory.
NeoLiberalism certainly demands inquiry & interrogation as it has entered all corners of our lives. And not just scholarly inquiry, given that the behavioral sciences have some theoretical overlaps with NeoLiberalism. Consider the focus on the individual, self-actualization (Maslow’s Hierarchy is literally complicit with NeoLiberalism), living your best life… Indeed, full understanding of NeoLiberalism necessitates 100% inclusion in the investigation.
Its utilization of social media as a monetary vehicle basically means Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/etc are CVs & resumes that require daily updates. Just as we lift weights & jog to stay in shape, clean our glasses & brush our teeth, we maintain the ‘self’ we create on social media so that our polished profiles may serve us as well as our chiseled abs & perfect smiles.
Thus, as much as we may bemoan virtue signaling, and roll our eyes at performative allyship, the underlying motives of those actions are no different from taking an SAT prep course so we have the best scores so we’re more competitive for our most desired universities, and then pulling all-nighters with everything from Trenta sized Starbucks to Adderall to earn the best grades to be the most competitive for graduate school, and then… you get the idea.
A friend of mine showed some amazing virtue signaling on the Chemistry part of the SAT, and proceeded never to care about chemistry again years after earning her Masters. I cared a lot about what a male avatar was telling me about, and I told him his orc look was really charming, and then I immediately logged out after he helped me complete a dungeon I needed help with.
This isn’t to say the ends justify the means, and the means aren’t even necessarily pernicious. It’s just that NeoLiberalism usurps an assumption of authenticity. It’s the individualism of capitalism, in its most disaggregated glory, leveraging the collectivism of our global public sphere.
Why should a company bother with consumer surveys when they already know what you clicked on & 3rd-party websites have your social media data; which you willingly offered as a core part of neoLiberal self-marketing on social media sites. The result: we’re all going to see different ads, disaggregated according to our characteristics & their machine learning imputations — all providing us the sense that we’re as free to express ourselves as we’ve ever been, when in reality we’re under quite possibly the most self-imposed surveillance of any generation in human history.
Don’t forget to delete your search history.
And if you don’t believe me, check your social media on November 26th & count how many people are taking pictures of their family dinner — before anyone carves anything — just to post them for the NeoLiberal capital available over the holidays.
— — — — — — — — — — — End scene — — — — — — — — — — —
I have some more examples in my little Black book, but it’s time for Playstation & for me to transform into GamerGirl (please use preferred pronouns if you see me in the Magic Forest; she/her/fashion leader).
Remember that part of Star Wars where ‘Dark Rey’ comes out wearing… dark
(see Feng Shui for positive connotations of Black)
There are certainly valid criticisms of performative allyship; I would add that condemnation can be performative in ways too, literally to earn Likes/Retweets much like the performativity that the critic is decrying. When Drew Brees apologized I took him at his word. Allies aren’t always going to do/say the right/perfect thing. Neither am I. Neither is anyone. So what if some celebs profited socially from speaking out…
I’m thankful that they did
Robin DiAngelo is an imperfect ally too, but I’m thankful for White Fragility & her other discourses on race.
Kendall (the second best Kardash after Kourtney) didn’t end racism with a Pepsi commercial, but I’m glad she’s marketing in that direction rather than using her clout & presence to popularize confederate/prejudiced flags.
The ASPCA received $19… that’s what matters.
The modern Civil Rights Movement dominated national news through the summer of a Presidential Election year… that’s what matters.
So, to all the imperfect allies:
Ethnicity Utilitarianism (will add citation)
You and the Algorithm: It Takes Two to Tango
Companies like Facebook need to be frank about how the relationship between you and their major algorithms really…
”Imagine you’re on your way home when you get a call from your partner. They tell you the fridge is empty and ask you to pick some things up on the way home. If you choose the ingredients, they’ll cook dinner. So you swing by the supermarket and fill a basket with a dozen items. Of course, you only choose things you’d be happy to eat — maybe you choose pasta but not rice, tomatoes but not mushrooms. When you get home, you unpack the bag in the kitchen and your partner gets on with the cooking — deciding what meal to make, which of the ingredients to use, and in what amounts. When you sit down at the table, the dinner in front of you is the product of a joint effort, your decisions at the grocery store and your partner’s in the kitchen.
The relationship between internet users and the algorithms that present them with personalized content is surprisingly similar.
Thousands of signals are assessed for these posts, like who posted it, when, whether it’s a photo, video or link, how popular it is on the platform, or the type of device you are using. From there, the algorithm uses these signals to predict how likely it is to be relevant and meaningful to you: for example, how likely you might be to “like” it or find that viewing it was worth your time.
The goal is to make sure you see what you find most meaningful — not to keep you glued to your smartphone for hours on end. You can think about this sort of like a spam filter in your inbox: it helps filter out content you won’t find meaningful or relevant, and prioritizes content you will.”
And he needs to leave the White House by January 6th so it has 2 weeks of quarantine from prejudice. …and COVID19.