Portia Placino

Repository of my thoughts and images of art, literature, travel, and life.

Sleep and immaterial labor

On sleep and translations. #formerwest #hkw #berlin

A post shared by Portia (@portiaplacino) on

Being online is a very distracting process. Years before, we existed without the consistent need to check things online. But things have changed, and sometimes, I feel addicted to that sensation–of having to check on whatever is happening online. It is unhealthy. It can be a very isolating process as well.

This reminds me of Alexei Penzin’s lecture about two years ago at Former West 2013. He was problematizing sleep and immaterial labor. Our constant presence and performance online and in social media demands our attention 24/7. Do we still sleep? Even as our body is asleep, our presence is now a constant as our online presence never sleeps. This also reflects on the present condition of labor. It is part of the immaterial labor that never stops, an ever-present performance. Sometimes I want to escape this consistent labor, yet at times, I feel like we thrive in it.

But the digital world is just a medium. You may use it to enable a real connection or you may use it as a substitute of such. There were countless times that social media was a means to an end–a means for everyone to catch up and get together in real life, and this still happens. I even have a first hand experience wherein people got together in social media in order to create real change and it worked, though such instances are rare.

Right now, being online feels like a constantly debilitating process. There are always questions on what to post and what not to. There are constant arguments and unhealthy debates that are going on about one issue or another. It is always an option to go off-line, and I assume that some who may read this post would think this, but there are practicalities involved in being online as well. Keeping this blog, for instance. Wherever these thoughts would take me, I would want to put this out there.

Are we constantly performing an immaterial labor for the capitalist condition? Is being online work rather than play? Is our current condition depriving us of sleep and real rest?

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