Book Review: Digital narcissism

Claudio Rossetti

Critique of the collective intelligence in the age of surveillance capitalism

Reading this book opens an interesting and engaging glimpse into our society clinging to the so-called new media

While not doubting the outstanding value that these have had, not only in how we communicate but also in our way of life, Calzeroni, a 19th century journalist, perceptively addressed the topic of the use of electronic media and its responsibility in dissipating social relationships. Certainly, at a time like this where the crisis has made working from home with online communication indispensable in order to encourage social distancing, it is difficult to fully tune into the views of the author who fiercely argues against the theory of Pierre Lévy on “digital triumphalism”. The latter’s theory, according to which technological progress and the digital revolution are the outright lever for the human race’s “liberation” is, for Calzeroni, somewhat excessive. As is direct cyber-democracy which could transform the administered into administrators. According to Calzeroni, internet-centrism as defined by Evgenij Morozof, is showing, “… its limits now more than ever before. The tremendous revolutionary waves of tweets (lauded in the times of the Arab Spring) are giving way to surrender and silence. The myth of public opinion protected by the free movement of opinions crumbles in the face of global espionage programmes and onslaughts of fake news. The song of the virtues of a system based on transparency and on the control of news in real-time is silenced in the chaos of an increasingly explosive entertainment market “.

Reading “Digital narcissism” forces us to deeply reflect on our social condition, on the sense of omnipotence which often pervades us through technological support and the great solitude that sucks us in when the screen is turned off. We are in the presence of a new pathology, digital narcissism, which needs to be managed but prevented even more, keeping all the good aspects of technologies and removing the adverse side effects.

Title: Digital narcissism. Critique of the collective intelligence in the age of surveillance capitalism

Authors: Pablo Calzeroni

Editor: Mimesis

Year of publication: 2020