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The Digital Age:

An Era of Passivity and Egomania 

By Mohna Khan
On September 28, 2010

"We are becoming like cats, slyly parasitic, enjoying an indifferent domesticity. Nice and snug in the social, our historic passions have withdrawn into the glow of an artificial coziness..." Jean Baudrillard

It is undeniable that the advent of technology has significantly altered the way we communicate, how we share and acquire information and even the way we maintain relations with others. The technological realm has essentially become a microcosm (within the equally bizarre world of the ‘real') wherein simulated projections of ourselves reside. It is this very domain that, in my opinion, has led to an obsession not just with technology itself, but with every mundane happening of our day to day lives, which can now easily be broadcast to anyone via the usage of our chosen digital medium of communication.

It is not just the self-worship and shameless self-promotion of today's culture that is disconcerting, it also seems we have been driven into an age in which many find it unnecessary to be aware of what exists and is occurring outside of one's social sphere. Though I do not believe this generational passivity has overtaken the lives of every individual in our current age, I do, however, believe that it would not be irrational to make the claim that a great deal of today's youth are incredibly uninformed and apathetic towards occurrences, past or present, that do not directly impact them. It is not uncommon for a generation to face scrutiny for exhibiting, what some would consider to be careless and self-indulgent behavior; 60's youth were condemned for their overtly sexual behavior, habitual use of mind-altering hallucinogens, and social and political activism (though it seems only the far-right disapproved of this). Youth of the 70s and 80s were deemed by many as the generation of excess and flash. Of course, 90s youth, most commonly referred to as Generation X, became the decade in which its members simultaneously wallowed in and celebrated their feelings of alienation and existential angst.

But what separates each aforementioned generation apart from our own is that we now have the ability to be passive in one domain (again, that of the ‘real') and wholly present and active in the digital sphere; we are simultaneously absent and present. We embrace the inane notion that everyone we have ever encountered have become our ‘friends' and every insignificant moment of the day is worth relaying to said friends. And in reference to the meaningless "status update" topic, what I find most interesting is the frequently used expression of "I'm bored", which affirms that, even with countless forms and sources of entertainment at our fingertips, we are still bored.

We are in an age of hyper-consumption of both the material and the intangible. As we fulfill our collective appetite for the real by devouring everything in sight, the contrived dimension of the digital is devouring us. The concept of the self is no longer one of singularity in that we are now just one of many mediocre imitations of ourselves.

We have created false reflections in realms we will never step into and we have become virtual voyeurs and sociopaths, who seek to exhaust every inch of this illusory domain of instantaneity and egomania.

I leave you with another relevant quote by Postmodern theorist, Jean Baudrillard: "We are no longer in a state of growth; we are in a state of excess. We are living in a society of excrescence. The boil is growing out of control, recklessly at cross purposes with itself, its impacts multiplying as the causes disintegrate." 

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