Natasha Lushetich


Digitally mediated everyday actions – measuring one’s height at a doctor’s, buying a product online or processing purchases at a supermarket checkout – often entail a painful retracing of steps. Organised around rigid automated structures that allow progress only if the action is performed in the prescribed way and in this way only, the obligatory retracing of steps has a ritualistic dimension. It binds the body through a series of performed actions. This is supplemented by the ecstatic production of the self in the digitally accelerated semantic circuitry – e.g. the production of the ideal mother through the provision of 24/7 parenting advice on Instagram, or the production of the ideal quantity of social/symbolic capital through one’s Oculus avatar’s design.

By focusing on the painful-ecstatic matrixes of daily digital performance established through repetition, this paper articulates the methodologies of the performative subject’s self-exploitation (Han). Given the irrevocability of the performance imperative as related to achievement, fulfillment and investment on the labour/ libidinal market on the one hand, and the shift in the responsibility discourse (which designates the individual as the site to which social problems are relegated but not solved) on the other, self-exploitation is the next echelon in the Agambian sacer-isation. Its results are not only psychophysical deterioration but also isolation and self-devaluation: the digital homo sacer has no one else to blame but him/herself.