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Love Online

Musings of Love, Online: An essay published by SPAM Zine and Press 

> We are all looking for a connection. Be that an internet one or an IRL one, whatever the connection is, we want it. This feeling has become immediate. It is obsessive and sometimes narcissistic. We have to have it now, and we can – because of the internet. Gone are the times of wondering whether someone fancies you or not, now a simple swipe tells us. We can stay online and up to date with hot spots and airdrops. We can stay in love with dating and porn sites.

> Whilst perambulating online I stumbled across the word l i m e r e n c e, coined in the 70s by Dorothy Tennov, a psychologist studying the experiences of being in love. Tennov created this new word to describe her findings of the emotional feeling her participants had when they felt an infatuation with someone that was often unrequited and/or obsessive. They couldn’t commit to a simple task without thinking of their LO (limerent object) aka loved one. Something as normal as reading, Tennov noted, would become a thought bridge back to their limerent lover. These intrusive thoughts that Tennov described seem to be more apparent today, with the Instagram attention spans of millennials and addictive apps that allow you to obsess over complete strangers.

> Anna Biller’s 2016 film The Love Witch main character Elaine has many a love affair, desperately trying to find a man. She becomes completely obsessed with her LO’s (limerent objects), one being her friend’s husband. The film focuses on her infatuation with them and how she casts spells on them that make them her hapless dim victims. She is seen to quickly cast them aside when she realises they just aren’t good enough, before moving onto the next. Elaine retorts, ‘What I’m really interested in is love. You might say I’m addicted to love.’ The protagonist is obsessed with love itself, rather than the person she falls for.

> In Real Life Magazine Alexandra Molotkow argues that limerence is a narcissistic act in her essay Crush Fatigue, ‘the great irony, of course, is that in chasing the idea of someone else, it can only wrap yourself up in you.’ Love online could be just another way digital natives are obsessing over themselves. An ultimately selfish act. Or maybe it’s with the internet that we are becoming disassociated with love, enjoying fantasy escapism as we compare ourselves to people we’ve never met…

> Love is ubiquitous and if we peel it back to what it actually is: pure human emotion, it can’t ever be a waste of time or seen negatively. It is almost as if the internet has teamed up with society’s current turmoil to give love a bad name. Love is considered for losers, much like the ‘live laugh love’ signs that we see on forgotten bedroom walls. No one wants to admit when they love something and no one wants to be caught with one of those tacky wall decorations. Maybe we have finally reached a level of such melancholy and nihilism that living and laughing and loving is considered totally lame. Anna Biller tweeted, ‘We’re living in a culture now where love and sex are equally shameful concepts.’ People are ashamed of being in love or showing love, just like it isn’t considered cool to stalk your ex, no one wants to be the first to say the ‘L’ word.

> It could be that people’s perceptions of love have changed due to the different corners of the internet that allow you to encounter moments that would otherwise be an intimate affair between two or more human bodies. More people are buying sex toys (Amazon stocks 10,000 various types) than actually having sex. More people are hooking up via their phones but fewer people are having sex and c o n n e c t i n g on a personal level.

> In the article Why Are Young People Having So Little Sex by Kate Julian for The Atlantic, the sex recession is raised and the internet is blamed. Julian argues that even though we are in the age of acceptance and sex before marriage is considered very normal, even ‘Anal sex has gone from final taboo to ‘fifth base’—Teen Vogue (yes, Teen Vogue) even ran a guide to it.’ Yet we are having much less than generations before. She goes on to say, ‘Further outside the mainstream, the far-right Proud Boys group has a ‘no wanks’ policy, which prohibits masturbating more than once a month.’ The alt-right group’s founder, Gavin McInnes, who also co-founded Vice Media, has said that porn and masturbation are making people ‘not even want to pursue relationships.’ Albeit a rogue choice of comparison, there are corners online where the Proud Boys rule supreme, behind greasy laptop screens.

> Porn and masturbation are addictive, just like how Elaine from The Love Witch is addicted to love, people can be addicted to online behaviours that come with watching porn and masturbating. Today it is far easier to watch porn and jerk off than it is to go out and chat with someone and sleep with them.

> In Geraldine Snell’s book overlove (2018), the reader is taken on a journey of obsession and complete fantasy, with the crux of it being limerence. This lover fabricates writing to someone she has never even met, imagining their relationship unfolding through unsent Facebook messages and undelivered texts. It is an addictive read, much like love itself is addictive, and being online itself is addictive; the marriage goes on and on. Snell perfectly captures the all-encompassing feeling of love that is inherently ~female~. It draws my easily distracted attention back to The Love Witch and Elaine’s fantasies and then the fantasies that we are able to make reality due to the World Wide Web.

> Love is holistic, it is a feeling felt by everyone at some stage. We are in a world where we are taught to value commodity culture over nature and emotion. Love online is predominantly as obsessive and addictive as the webspace allows it to be. What seems to be missing online is a type of love that translates to tenderness and romanticism. The internet has made sharing easier than ever, so why not share kindness and build foundations of sentimental sincerity rather than a narcissistic, individualist state of mind? As love, as primitive as it is, might be the most (dare I say the word) a u t h e n t i c thing we have left.

Psychogeography Online
(when you wander off the digital path)

An article published by Screen Shot Magazine

Wake up snooze the alarm > check Twitter > check Instagram > Advertisement: SALES (check until you remember your bank balance then go back to Instagram) > check Facebook > check News Source > Advertisement: Clear Blue 99% accurate (I shouldn't have Googled early signs of pregnancy last night, do the algorithms think I am pregnant?) > repeat in the exact same order the next morning.

To wander: characterised by aimless, slow, or pointless movement: such as

a: that winds or meanders
b: wandering course
c: not keeping a rational or sensible course

Wandering without a purpose, taking in your environment, without thought of your destination. Asking yourself how a place or building makes you feel, and behave. There is a consumer refusal with psychogeography. The term was coined in 1950s Paris by Guy Debord, who sought to go against the Society of the Spectacle at the time. Or in other terms, to stop consuming, to remove himself from the commodified public space and take in his surroundings in a more earnest way, connecting himself, and his newly founded Situationist movement, to cultural (rather than capitalist) production.

‘Dérive’, or drift, was defined as the “technique of locomotion without a goal,” in which “one or more persons during a certain period drop their usual motives for movement and action, their relations, their work and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.” Wrote Situationist Sadie Plant. This refrain from the psychogeographer's usual movements and motives is what they are still seeking and enjoying today.

Wake up snooze the alarm > check Twitter > check Instagram > Advertisement: SALES (check until you remember your bank balance then go back to Instagram) > check Facebook > check News Source > Advertisement: London Wellness Centre (I shouldn't have Googled back pain last night, do the algorithms think I need a chiropractor?) repeat in the exact same order the next morning.


Capitalism is a closed world; each day we take the same paths and routes to work, stop at the same coffee shop and buy the same things from the same Prets for lunch (Advertisement: Your nearest McDonald’s is only 6 meters away). Being online is no different, as corporatisation has taken hold; the internet has become more and more like the cities and towns we inhabit. Individuals become one of a million passers-by in a constant state of liminality, taking the same routes and always ready to spend. 

Reading ‘Where to for Public Space’ by Constant Dullaart, he says that faux public spaces IRL, such as City Mile, match URL faux public spaces. The World Wide Web is a collection of privately maintained environments linked together, hence the reason for legislation on the Internet and the flow of profitable information through these websites.

My mind is taken to the death of Vine (RIP VINE), a truly free space online, to drift, to derive, away from corporatisation, a space to wander and wonder, without thought, away from advertisements and consumer culture, a place where user-generated content was freely accessible. Except, this was exactly the reason for its demise. It was unprofitable, and therefore not warranted online.

Wake up snooze the alarm > check Twitter > check Instagram > Advertisement: SALES (check until you remember your bank balance then go back to Instagram) > check Facebook > check News Source > Advertisement: Personality quiz: Anxious or ADHD? (I shouldn’t have Googled dying from a hangover last night, do the algorithms think I am a hypochondriac?) > repeat in the exact same order the next morning.

Psychogeography was intended to cultivate an awareness of the ways in which everyday life is presently conditioned and controlled, the ways in which this manipulation can be exposed, subverted and resisted, and the possibilities for chosen forms of constructed situations in the post-spectacular world. The point of psychogeography for the Situationists was to gain a perspective of their environments, to be aware yet chose to go against them. It isn’t the case of having cities and places stop still, to not develop or change, but to be aware of these changes and use them in their wanderings.

What is more ‘everyday’ than the internet? This too can be exposed, subverted and resisted in order to wander off the digital path, away from corporate surveillance sites aimed to sell to you algorithmically. (Sponsored: Chipotle Mexican Grill, avoiding gluten? Going vegan?) It isn’t the case to wish for idealistic and naive 90s cyberspace but to be aware of the surveillanced space and use it to your advantage.

Such disorientation was craved by the Situationists. It was a means of showing the concealed potential of experimentation, the pleasure and play in everyday life. They considered chaos to be a valuable means to exposing the way in which the experiences made possible by capitalist production could be appropriated within a new enabling system of social relations.

Psychogeographers saw the city as a place of unification and empowerment, where they would go off the structured path. They used detournement to turn attention to the ruptures of society. For the Situationists, this was seen in poverty-stricken Paris, despite plentiful material goods. We can see this happening online today, despite the turmoil we feel politically. People take an image: reshare it, repost it, hashtag it, like it, tweet it, and its original meaning has gone; it's been reappropriated into a new community. It’s been taken from its algorithmic path on an unpredictable journey, usually stemming from web forums such as Reddit, Imgur and 4Chan. These sites are key leaders in this detournement, albeit they’re often hate-fueled and transgressive. However, the support networks on these forums (although equally argued as internet troll clubs) is paramount. They are truly public spaces, to drift as you so wish.

Wake up snooze the alarm > check Twitter > check Instagram > Advertisement: SALE (check until you remember your bank balance then go back to Instagram) > check Facebook > check News Source > Advertisement: Huel, try it now from just £1.33 a meal (I shouldn’t have Googled workout videos last night, do the algorithms think I would drink that?) > repeat in the exact same order the next morning..

Whistleblowers as Celebrities:

An article published by Screen Shot Magazine

There have been many famous whistleblowers in our time, but few have stood out and made a stir in celebrity culture: that being Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. Assange is known for the website ‘Wikileaks’, which allows anonymous sources to leak information about their workplace and government. Edward Snowden is known for releasing NSA documents that prove the US has been intercepting and spying on citizens’ private information, such as their web searches, text messages and phone calls. Chelsea Manning is known for leaking thousands of documents to Wikileaks, including a video of American soldiers killing innocent civilians during the Iraq war.

To recap briefly, today, Edward Snowden is in exile in Russia, where he is safe to stay until 1st August 2017 under the rule of the Russian government, who offered him asylum for three years. Assange is in exile in the Ecuador Embassy in London. He has a warrant for arrest against him in Sweden for rape allegations and fears if he returns to Sweden, he will be sent to America to face charges under the Espionage Act. This act is a WWI era statute that is meant for spies, not whistleblowers, who give information to the press, one that imprisoned Chelsea Manning. The act does not allow for a ‘public interest’ defence, which has been crucial to the whistleblowers of our time. In fact the public interest has been so vast, many films and documentaries have been made about them such as ‘We Steal Secrets: Wikileaks’, ‘Citizen Four’, ‘The Fifth Estate’, ‘Wiki Rebels’, ‘Mediastan’, ‘The Snowden Files’ and the 2016 blockbuster ‘Snowden’. Members of the public hold rallies in whistleblowers' defence and well-established charities, such as Amnesty International, create campaigns to persuade President Obama to pardon them.

It is essential to point out that Assange isn’t actually a whistleblower at all; he is more a provider for them and should be known for his hacker abilities. He acts most like a celebrity, perhaps from his own desire of rock stardom. The culture that surrounds celebrities can have its bright and much darker sides. Take Kim Kardashian as a nuanced example of these darker shades of being famous and the recent news of when she was gagged, tied up and dumped in a bathtub in her hotel in Paris as thieves stole £7 million of jewellery. This news spread like wildfire, and the Internet had no sympathy, sending her death threats and treating her inhumanely, as if her fame, which separates her and celebrities like her from the rest of the population, makes people unable to empathise. We are seeing this more and more with whistleblowers too. It is as if the limelight casts a shadow on what they risked for truth and justice and highlights who they are as people, which is hugely unimportant.

But the difference between whistleblowers and celebrities is that whistleblowers are not meant to be particularly interesting as people; the essential issue is what they have achieved on behalf of democracy. They proved so influential in their achievements that a Swedish Newspaper nominated Manning, Assange and Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize this year. There is a website called ‘chelseamanning.org’ where 50 plus celebrities show public support of her. Amongst the celebrities that support Chelsea are Vivienne Westwood, Russel Brand and Pamela Anderson, who see her as a truth-teller and believe their status as cultural figures will help to free her. Are whistleblowers themselves cultural figures? What is the difference between a whistleblower and a celeb? They’re both on TV, both followed, both written about, both have fans and stalkers, films and documentaries are made for them or about them, both groups are constantly in the public eye and all try to keep an element of privacy.

What is dangerous however is the more a whistleblower transforms into a celebrity, what they did and why they’re famous becomes second place, forgotten.

Snowden is called a “computer geek” in the media yet there is an action film coming out about him. It’s a Jason Bourne-style thriller with a very exaggerated role of the real Snowden, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who was said to spend time with Snowden when he was cast and felt honoured to play him. Snowden is portrayed as superhero-type in the film, with a scene where he finishes an aptitude test, which normally takes 5 hours, in 38 minutes. This scene represents Superman tendencies, such as flicking through a book in a number of seconds to gain all the knowledge. It’s entertaining and it's Hollywood but is it true to the sincerity of whistleblowing? Manning has tried to commit suicide; she’s facing solitary confinement and has 30 plus years in jail. There’s nothing ‘super’ about that.

‘Snowden’, which has yet to reach British cinemas, received mixed reviews. No one thought to ask what Snowden himself thought of the movie, it’s as if a film about him, with his name as the title, holds more worth. Snowden has been morphed into a celebrity without his consent. Julian Assange too was morphed when his cartoon lookalike appeared on The Simpsons. Thurston Moore, Sonic Youth’s co-founder is releasing a special cassette of his new single ‘Chelsea’s Kiss’, named after Chelsea Manning with the proceeds going to Manning’s support network to pay her legal fees. All these instances, which blur the line between whistleblowing and celebrity, were nothing to do with the whistleblowers themselves. Whistleblowers have values; there is no entertainment factor. It’s just them and their opinion. In that sense, they could be viewed as the purest celebrity as they inspire people for what they did first hand.

This elevated celebrity culture causes real people, behind the media coverage, the fans and the fame to be dehumanised. The reason why Kim Kardashian, our celebrity example, is famous is obscured and irrelevant. What audiences forget is that they’re human just like anyone else. It is easy to get wrapped up in the media coverage; there are allegations in some news outlets saying Snowden isn’t even a whistleblower, but a liar and a spy. The general public can get wrapped up in celeb culture to the point where they forget the real heroes, like Manning, and the reason why they were famous in the first place. It is here that we find the lines are blurred between whistleblower and celebrity, one releases serious allegations that sentence them to 35 years in prison, whilst the other is a cultural fad with riches that would do anything to keep their celebrity status. All Snowden, Assange and Manning wanted or believed in was freedom of speech. Whistleblowers should be celebrated not celebrities.