PseudoModernism aka DigiModernism
Recently I’ve written on the apparent “death” of Postmodernism. Before you think that the end of Postmodern thought means the end of ambiguity, the gray-area, or question-asking, have no fear. It’s not a regression to 1950s thought of “calling a spade a spade” mentality.
…we are all a little Victorian at times, a little modernist, a little Romantic, so we are all, and will forever be, children of postmodernism. –-Postmodernism is dead, by Edward Docx
We will always carry some elements of Postmodernism with us. But it’s important to understand some issues that have dawned in the advent of Postmodernism, what author Alan Kirby calls PseudoModernism, or DigiModernism. What is one of the main culprits for this shift from Postmodernism? As Alan Kirby puts it:
somewhere in the late 1990s or early 2000s, the emergence of new technologies re-structured, violently and forever, the nature of the author, the reader and the text, and the relationships between them.
So yes, Digimodernism is a reference to digital. Postmodernism “emphasized the elusiveness of knowledge”– basically, ideas of reality and truth are problematic because there is always a “spin” on it, whether deliberate or unintentional. This idea is echoed in movies like The Matrix, to TV shows like X-files. “The truth is out there”– but you’ll probably never find it.
From a millennial perspective this idea of “the elusiveness of knowledge” is reminiscent of those who grew up during the paranoia of the Cold-War era. Concerns of “Big Brother” pulling all the strings, and the individual trying to disconnect from cultural context was of real concern. It’s like the individual was as powerless against their context as the people who were living in pods in The Matrix. No control, passively living under the will of a puppet-master.
But for an information-empowered generation of millennials, the elusiveness of knowledge doesn’t deter us from taking advantage of the usefulness of knowledge. While millennials may believe that you can’t know Absolute Truth, unfortunately, as a generation they have many Inconvenient Truths to sort through. In other words, they’re unafraid to add qualifiers to truth, like hashtags to a tweet. Knowledge is power, right? And millennials are very empowered by knowledge and information. That’s a point Kirby focuses on.
We (kind of) are Big Brother
Because of the internet and social media we are more empowered by information, and communication than ever before. Have a bad experience with a company? We can tweet them (for all to see) until we get a refund. Don’t like the opinions you’re hearing on the “news”? Go to a different website with your personal political leanings. Need some quick facts? Google it. Looking for more substantial info? Watch that epic documentary on Netflix that will confirm everything you thought was true!
A far cry from worrying about how Big Brother is controlling our experiences with reality (er “reality”) we feel empowered to beat Big Brother at his own game by googling, hashtagging, and tweeting our way to a more robust information experience. Big Brother can present information, but can’t control how we interact with it.
This leaves a disconnect between millennials who have a more empowered attitude, and older generations. The fears of “being controlled” of yesteryear may leave a millennial thinking “why didn’t they just change the channel?” Or block that status update from your Facebook feed? Or read the HuffPost version of that Fox News story?
We’re empowered! Get it?? But that’s the problem…
Tunnel vision, and the problem with “spin”
In the new information age, it may appear that millennials are free of “spin.” We can cross-contextualize anything into perspective. So here is the challenge so-called DigiModernism presents to millenials. We’re not free from “spin”, just able to choose which spin we like. And with that, we’re actually way more susceptible to spin.
While Postmodernism questioned truth, and asserted that we are all hopelessly stuck in our own tunnel-vision, DigimModernsim says, since I’m more informed I know more about the world. Ironically, DigiModernism enforces tunnel vision. In today’s world our flow of information can be radically different from your next-door neighbor, or even your cubicle mate. And now we know way too much about our neighbor’s opinions!
This is important to note, because the unexpected side-effect of DigiModernism, according to Kirby, is fanaticism. Fanatacism is defined as: Excessive, irrational zeal. With the advent of Postmodernism, fanaticism is a concern because excessive zeal, is now accompanied by an excessive flow of information. A very far cry from the disconnected Postmodernism that sought to not believe anything too much, Digimodernism is empowered (by Google) to fervently believe whatever it wants.
In the words of SNL’s The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started A Conversation With at a Party: “It’s an epidemic!!” What is? We’re not sure… Why it matters? No idea. That’s the tragic point of DigiModernism: the level of passion eclipses the level of good information, or critical thought. Perhaps Twitter is revealing a truth that people don’t have a natural inclination (or perhaps even ability) to disconnect from their own biases.
So the irony is that with the “death” of Postmodernism brings an end to a mindset that we may dearly miss: the idea that there is always a spin on things. Even if we’re now choosing what that “spin” is.
Millennials are awesome
Anyway, hopefully some of you millennials enjoyed this philosophical sort-through. I thought the article had some interesting take-aways. In the “Information Age” we’re in an age where a lot of people plunge head-first into personal bias, and deliberately search for the “spin” they want.
With that said, it’s not a knock on millennials, but an encouragement to continue to change conventional wisdom to test your biases, and preconceived notions. And personally, from the vantage point of my own flow of tweets, and Facebook feed, millennials seem to be doing pretty well with their handling of information.