iPhone X launch day

Above: Apple customer proudly displays the iPhone X on launch-day at Apple Union Square, San Francisco, 3 November, 2017. Credit: Unattributed/official Apple press photo.

iPhone X launch day

Above: Apple customers proudly display the iPhone X on launch-day at Apple Sydney, 3 November, 2017. Credit: Unattributed/official Apple press photo.


It would be "unforgivable to allow ourselves to be deceived by the kind of utopia which insinuates that technology will ultimately bring about happiness and a greater sense of humanity (VW: 79)." The perception that new technology is absolutely beneficial has always required intensive advertising and actually propaganda, "the Industrial Revolution would have been impossible without the invention of the advertisement ... [in the nineteenth century] the development of the advertisement ... went hand-in-hand with the propaganda of progress (VW: 20)." In the twentieth century the reality of the horror and havoc caused by new technology--nuclear weapons, high explosives, toxic chemicals, etc.--certainly required propaganda to continuously remind people of the welcome benefits of technology (VW: 20).

Surging through the city streets humans are continuously distracted and subdued by LCD flat-panel display screens. Computer-linked visual display screens have become a ubiquitous component of the urban environment--promotions, announcements, advertising, visitor information, etc. (UD: 107). These signs and images "endlessly bombard our imagination (OS: 96)." In the context of the above there is a simple immediate precaution anyone can take in the city: wear dark glasses to limit the intrusion of visual pollutions in the urban--nothing to do with looking cool but rather to gain some relief from the continuous harassing of consciousness (OS: 96). This trick is a simple-but-effective way of lowering "the intensity of transmission of appearances (OS: 96)."

In the era of the Internet-connected digital-device advertising as per the television age (the paid-for 30-second-long clip or spot) is ineffective and redundant--very few internauts will watch such adverts willingly and are more likely to simply avoid them (utilizing ingenious techniques to do so). In the age of the "globalized market" or the "generalized transparent market" the advert is pervasively replaced by actual purchasing: online shopping. The promotion-and-mythologizing of products often occurs when any given product appears--crops up--in the posts of those who are sharing details of their lives online (including on social media). In the social media age of "generalized snooping" or "universal voyeurism" the propagation of desire for a consumer product is more indirect than ever before--promotion is peer-to-peer and viral. In this new context the familiar psychology of desire in terms of consumerism remains very much in place: the envy-and-competitiveness which has traditionally fueled consumerism. Globalization and the rise to dominance of consumer-led capitalism has set in place a "fearsome system of intensive growth (SP: 89)." As soon as a product is available in the shops its replacement is already entering production; the upgraded, enhanced, new-generation version that is soon to appear. A product exists within this realm of its ever decreasing life-span, shelf-life or life-cycle. On this Virilio recalls a popular proverb, "if it works, it's obsolete," or sometimes, "if it works it's already obsolete" (AD: 104--PV attributes the well-known proverb to Louis Mountbatten).

The smartphone is a highly aestheticized consumer product and with its super-smooth-rounded corners and glossy-glistening screen it is no doubt desirable--but to have become as absolutely fetishized as it has is the result of intense advertising and in fact state-backed propaganda--the subtle promotion of tech products (information, reviews, articles) is systematically supported and disseminated by the mainstream news media to an extent that the coverage is pervasive and actually unavoidable. For example, iPhone products launched by Apple are supported by hundreds-of-thousands of news articles on the new product, "this technological progress has been accompanied by real propaganda, notably in the way the media covers the new creations presented by Steve Jobs ... how can we not be alarmed by the media storm that erupts with each new product released by the company with an apple as its logo? The media provides free promotion and participates in the mass illuminism which is at a far remove from information (ADF: 39)." Media coverage of new tech products isn't just distasteful and unbalanced, it is a form of state-sanctioned mass manipulation, "the combination of techno-scientific domination and propaganda reproduces all of the characteristics of occupation, both physically and mentally (ADF: 16)." Intense consumer advertising-marketing-branding by phone manufacturers has been so successful that it has inculcated a conditioned response: the consumer needs only to hear the tinkling bell announcement of a new mobile phone device to be mesmerized anew. The end-user is a willingly dehumanized automata of the tech companies--its products rule over the user's life determining how he-she communicates, limiting his-her vocabulary, diminishing and impoverishing much in the transformation from authentic experience to virtual-simulated digital-online equivalents. Tech devices are marketed as simply enhancing the individual's convenience, leisure, social interactions, and so forth. This is precisely the hallmark of successful indoctrination: the end-user sees only a fun and useful object, i.e., the device is perceived as having only positive and benign properties "we no longer feel occupied, we feel free, and even increasingly free, delivered (ADF: 48)."