Un-quantified self

  • Painting: oil on canvas
  • Size: 42Hx62Wx2 inches

Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff has said we now live in a world where the possibilities of what we are, are limitless. That with our current digital technology there’s an “anything’s possible” scenario to life. Everybody can create their own life story. But instead, and very possibly either because of the limitations of human psychology or the incipient nature of digital technology, we instead limit, anxiously accommodate ourselves. “Most of our understanding of self through digital technology,” he says, “is through the different ways in which we track ourselves.” We quantify ourselves. What we buy, what we search for, is tracked and recorded, and it is the next ad we see when we digitally interact. Consequently individuality itself is transmuted into a preexisting brand, rather than being immutably idiosyncratic. And although that is how it has always been, either in antiquity or modernity, it is now constantly, and strategically targeted and placed before us. We don’t have an out. Society is, and if not now will be, at the beck and call of technology. It is the latest toy. It is our century’s electricity. But contrary to Rushkoff, it is not technology, but the users, again, who are in question – it is “user error.” We put ourselves in a constant state of “emergency interruption,” looking online to create ourselves, looking at what we are most likely to buy, who we are to become – ads, push notifications, pings, intimating that we must keep up. The “Joneses” are digitally keeping up with themselves, solipsistically, and within their given market.

Lost, our digital technology is another ramping up, its our search of a tangible individuality. It is our next solace, in our search for the oracle of "me" against "you", our insistence we must possess what no one else has, rather than creating a companion world, our failure to realize, of exactly what we're losing grasp, of our own idiosyncratic inability to find our irreplicable self, of our un-quantified self. 

Un-quantified Self
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