[iDC] The -L- Word

Trebor Scholz trebor at thing.net
Mon Mar 5 07:49:35 EST 2007


The dynamics of labor are complex. It's complicated; participants in sociable web media surely get something out of their time spent and labor invested. (I really appreciated the link
that Ana Valdes established between virtual and "real life world" exploitation.) But when you say that people are aware that they are unfairly treated, I suggest to geographically
situate this argument. Speaking about far stretches of Europe, I agree with you that such awareness is prevalent. Within the context of the United States, however, I can assure you
that it is not some kind of opportunistic ivory tower assertion to propose that the consciousness of the very real exploitation of labor is dismal among the youth. Talk to most of the
18 or 25 year-olds here and you will find very little of the awareness that you are taking for granted. Au Contraire! I noticed a naturalized identification with corporate interests that
seem to be closer to their hearts than their own. This is not their "fault," it's not the wrong kind of youth -- it is simply the way they were socialized, --yes-- by the mass media and
basically by everything that surrounds them since day 1. Many of them see exploitation as a phenomenon that transcends history and is part of human nature. Sure, it is costly to
provide the kind of service that MySpace or YouTube provide (granted that these are extreme examples). However, there is an undeniable imbalance between the profit gained
through the performance and speech acts of the very many participants and their payback (micro-fame, affect, a sense of belonging, ...).
And, there is nothing natural about that.



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