Technology imitates life: What Club Quarantine tells us about the future of the use of digital technology
In my previous blog post, I introduced Club Quarantine, a virtual, queer club night, hosted on video call application Zoom every night of the quarantine. As of right now, Club Quarantine is on Party #74, has hosted some of the most iconic performers and producers in the left-field queer music community, and has sponsored events by PAPER magazine, as well as press coverage from notable contemporary culture publications such as i-D magazine, Pitchfork, and DAZED. As I previously argued, Club Quarantine challenges many of the theories and questions that pervade the discussion of digital media use, however in this post, I will focus on how Club Quarantine is a plain display of how technology imitates life, and what the future of digital media use looks like.
(Club Quarantine, 2020)
Popular discourses around the uses of digital media have veered between optimism and pessimism. On one side of the argument, the emerging forms of digital media are celebrated for creating new forms of community and resources for empowerment, while the other believes that an increasingly open online world poses personal dangers and commercial exploitation. Technology is seen to bring profound effects irrespective of its uses; however this technological determinism distracts from the role of users in building and defining that technology (Wyatt, 2008). While technology introduces new forms of communication, community building, information sharing, etc. into our lives, the role of users in not only defining but constantly redefining the reputation and uses of a network which has ignored for too long.
It is easy to see this in online platforms whose reputations were essentially destroyed by their users. 4Chan, for example, an imageboard website that started out as a community forum which became to be a hub of trolling and doxing. Even Twitter has been redefined by online users as the place where people get cancelled, in the tradition of its ever returning [name of person] is over party hashtag (at the time of writing #DojaCatisoverparty is trending). If this ability to claim a platform for a specific purpose by users is recognised by online users, why is the opposite not also recognised?
Although the influence users have on a platform is more pronounced on some than others, reclaiming or reinterpreting digital spaces for community use can also be observed. Black twitter is a popular one, and Club Quarantine is just another version of that. Taking hold of an online meeting application to host a club night for a marginalized community is not only innovative but also radical, in the same way, that black voices have made themselves heard more prominently on platforms like Twitter.
The “desocialised” view taken from technological determinism (Wyatt, 2008: pg. 201) can be explained by multiple things. however, I would argue that much of it stems largely from ignoring young people’s subversive uses of digital technologies. Technological determinism will not have as much of a place in the future uses of technologies as young people today are the most technologically literate generation we have seen, and are able to adapt instantly to changes in digital technology. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates how technology has started to imitate life in the absence of it. While Club Quarantine is only one example of this, it can be predicted that future uses of technology will continue in this direction as a way of making not only communities more accessible to people, but the ideal life more so too.
Buckingham, D. (2007). Youth, identity, and digital media (p. 216). the MIT Press.
Club Quarantine. [clubquarantine]. (2020, May 25). fully charged ✔️ nipples are hard ✔️ ready to go ✔️ it’s wednesday again, which means @papermagazine and us continue our exhibitionistic love affair 👄 we got @tovelo @deathbyromy @klitoriusmaximus @teishi @alliemoves a performance by @_khloepark and your host for the night @loveisbailey 🙏 code in bio at 9PM EST. [Instagram photo]. Retrieved from: <https://www.instagram.com/p/CAatFvIgFw2/>
Mio_Mio. [beyoncesdick66]. (2020, May 23). Doja cat stan accounts making fun of lana yesterday and now seeing doja cat trending on twitter. PHOTO: https://twitter.com/beyoncesdick66/status/1264049841174446082/photo/1 [Tweet]. Retrieved from: <https://twitter.com/beyoncesdick66/status/1264049841174446082?s=20>.
ok wallet. [strl1ght]. (2020, May 23). Me crying because doja cat made me feel like a bad bitch but turns out to be racist #dojacatisoverparty PHOTO: https://twitter.com/strl1ght/status/1264135829242314752/photo/1. [Tweet]. Retrieved from: <https://twitter.com/strl1ght/status/1264135829242314752/photo/1>.
Wyatt, S. (2008). Technological determinism is dead; long live technological determinism. The handbook of science and technology studies, 3, 165–180.