News from nowhere - short pieces to get you thinking...


Mark Fisher, a lecturer in philosophy, has encountered students who do not read. Not even a couple of sentences. “They will protest that they can’t do it,” he writes in his book Capitalist Realism.

So why is it that these students won’t read? “The most frequent complaint teachers hear is that it’s boring,” Fisher writes. While these students are indeed capable of it, reading is hardly as pleasurable as texting, tweeting, pinning, and watching streaming images.

“Many of the teenage students I encountered seemed to be in a state of what I call depressive hedonia,” he writes, which he defines as an inability to do anything other than pursue pleasure. With a disquieting sensation that “something is missing”, students enter the cyber world to seek out hits of pleasure and newness to fill the void. “The consequence of being hooked into the entertainment matrix is twitchy, agitated interpassivity, an inability to concentrate or focus,” he writes. Head hunched over devices, punching into screens, students fail to notice that the actual activity is not really pleasurable at all (well, it’s hardly as invigorating as wildly bowing a cello, or riding a bike full pelt down a steep hill); in fact, most students appear withdrawn and sullen when on gadgets, but seem incapable of separating from their source of instant gratification for longer than a few minutes at a time.


From issue #5 of Womankind magazine - click here to subscribe now