Finally nobody outside: The corona pandemic at least temporarily fulfills the longing desires of the big tech companies.
Space sickness is the feeling of discomfort that astronauts experience until their bodies get used to weightlessness. If you like, a large part of the world’s population has been able to empathize with the self-isolation of space travelers in orbit over the past few weeks. The online-only existence with the constantly pounding news updates and live tickers about the epidemic creates feelings of dizziness and disorientation among the user.
It started well at the beginning of the quarantine. Existence in front of the screens was still considered, if not fulfilling, at least an adequate substitute for real life. Over time, people started to get tired of the technical makeshift measures. Video conferencing, whether with colleagues or friends, no longer felt futuristic, it was just tiring. Even Netflix usage is falling again.
Unlike the astronauts, whose balance organ is overwhelmed, the space sickness in the earth or better net inhabitants arises from absence. The world has become flat, messaging apps are just colorful word bubbles stacked on top of each other, a video call shows only one face in a rectangle. The third dimension is missing. While people suffer from this shortage, those companies whose business models are already interlinked with physical social isolation benefit. Globalization critic Naomi Klein described catastrophic capitalism as the tendency of the liberalized economy to use times of crisis to implement broad-based privatization measures and to consolidate existing injustices. As in the past, the triggers are not only cyclones or earthquakes, but also a pandemic.
The quarantine is exactly the utopia that tech companies want for their users
Even if it sounds counterintuitive in times of seemingly unlimited state money, there are a lot of signs that the disaster mechanism is working again: While the unemployment rate in the United States is skyrocketing, Amazon is precariously hiring six-digit numbers. As the leading indices tumble into the basement, share prices of virtually all major tech companies rise during Corona. While many small retailers, bookstores or restaurants will never recover from the Corona crisis, the platforms that can be controlled via the app are already ready to fill the gap. The tech blog describes the “Amazonification” of society One Zero this process. The world you are now plunging into, Naomi Klein wrote in last week The Intercept“While the corpses are still piling up, the past weeks of isolation are not seen as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a live laboratory for a permanent – and highly profitable – no-touch future”.
Quarantine time describes the utopia that many tech companies have envisioned for their users. After all, it’s their promise to create a completely clickable and searchable, data-driven reality. For the comfort of this reality, people have been more or less enthusiastic about the fact that the space they use is shrinking. If the pandemic turns the outside of your own door into a life-threatening world, the role of tech platforms as an intermediary between users and reality will be further strengthened.
The question remains how long we can take this. Astronauts get used to the space sickness. That doesn’t seem to be the case on Earth. There are even severe courses leading to hysteria. There is no other way to explain that so many people protest against relatively harmless contact restrictions.
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