For an upcoming project, designer Annett Höland asked me to react to a passage taken from Vilém Flusser’s essay on “the Non-Thing” (part of The Shape of Things). As I’m very fond of Flusser’s work, I was very happy to do this. This is the passage I chose:
The new human being is not a man of action anymore but a player: homo ludens as opposed to homo faber. Life is no longer a drama for him but a performance. It is no longer a question of action but of sensation. The new human being does not wish to do or to have but to experience. He wishes to experience, to know and, above all, to enjoy.
And here’s my reaction:
If the new human being is a player, what is the game being played? If we consider the online world, we notice a giant effort to make our daily experience look playful. Playful is different from ludic, as it is only the semblance of a ludic experience. Think of cute animations on Facebook, of doodles, of all the badges and gamification strategies on social media and marketplaces. This orchestration of interfaces is driven by a single aim, that is, concealing the profound tedium that permeates today‘s “onlife”. Glimpses of this tedium and even dread are increasingly frequent. Suddenly, while scrolling Facebook, we realize how deeply bored we are. Boredom is the déjà vu of our Matrix. Boredom is not the opposite of experience but the product of its excess. Experience is the passivity we are left with when we are deprived of the capacity of doing and making. Generally speaking, today’s online world is not a place of making but one of experience. Making, craft in the broadest sense, was put aside in favor of convenience and immediacy. No gratification without craft. If we want to get rid of online boredom we have to curb our thirst for experience, we have to reclaim craft, we have to welcome back the homo faber.