My review of Dominic Pettman’s short book Infinite Distraction: Looking at Social Media is up now at the Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB). In the review, I explore particularly the stakes of “distraction,” which Pettman borrows from Kracauer and Benjamin, and the way that their concept of Zerstreuung might help us to understand our age of “scatterbrained” multitasking and develop an appropriate response. With a nod to Marshall McLuhan and his notions of “hot” and “cool” media, I try to understand Pettman’s politics of distraction, which itself responds to Bernard Stiegler’s phenomenology of mediated temporality: “In the face of ultra-cool media, we have to learn to be ice cold. In the face of the always already ‘meta’ relation of social media to our divided, distracted attentions, we have to learn to be infinitely more distracted. Hypersynchronization and hypermodulation call for nothing less than hyperdistraction.” In the end, I am critical of what I refer to as the book’s “humanistic vision” and its “communicational bias,” but I certainly recommend engaging with Pettman’s thought-provoking and in many ways open-ended book, which I see sowing seeds for future thinking and action in the realm of social media.
Read the whole review here.