The digital world profoundly shapes how we work and consume and also how we play, socialize, create identities, and engage in politics and civic life. Indeed, we are so enmeshed in digital networksfrom social media to cell phonesthat it is hard to conceive of them from the outside or to imagine an alternative, let alone defy their seemingly inescapable power and logic. Yes, it is (sort of) possible to quit Facebook. But is it possible to disconnect from the digital networkand why might we want to?
Off the Network is a fresh and authoritative examination of how the hidden logic of the Internet, social media, and the digital network is changing users’ understanding of the worldand why that should worry us. Ulises Ali Mejias also suggests how we might begin to rethink the logic of the network and question its ascendancy. Touted as consensual, inclusive, and pleasurable, the digital network is also, Mejias says, monopolizing and threatening in its capacity to determine, commodify, and commercialize so many aspects of our lives. He shows how the network broadens participation yet also exacerbates disparityand how it excludes more of society than it includes.
Uniquely, Mejias makes the case that it is not only necessary to challenge the privatized and commercialized modes of social and civic life offered by corporate-controlled spaces such as Facebook and Twitter, but that such confrontations can be mounted from both within and outside the network. The result is an uncompromising, sophisticated, and accessible critique of the digital world that increasingly dominates our lives.
About the Author
Ulises Ali Mejias is assistant professor of communication studies at the State University of New York, College at Oswego.
Table of Contents
Part I. Thinking the Network
1. The Network as Method for Organizing the World
2. The Privatization of Social Life
3. Computers as Socializing Tools
4. Acting Inside and Outside the Network
Part II. Unthinking the Network
5. Strategies for Unmapping Networks
6. Proximity and Conflict
7. Collaboration and Freedom
Part III. Intensifying the Network
8. The Limits of Liberation Technologies
9. The Outside of Networks as Method for Acting in the World