Children have a creative propensity to derive enjoyment out of anything that sparks their imagination and not just the consumer goods that are designed for them. This, of course, must be stamped out and replaced with pleasure tied to ownership and status — motives that will help assimilate them to the demands of reproducing the capitalist economy.
Decentralization is not a politics in and of itself. Without a politics that explicitly seeks to serve the public while challenging corporate power, decentralization isn’t an actual strategy to decommodify our online interactions and reorient our networks toward alternative purposes.
After commenting on how we’ve idealized the early web, McNeil writes that “when I think I feel nostalgic for the internet before social media consolidation, what I am actually experiencing is a longing for an internet that is better, for internet communities that haven’t come into being yet.” Clearly, this is not just about decentralization; it’s about thinking through the outcomes we want to see and building institutions — and only later technologies — in service of those political goals. Instead of hoping a particular network design will be immune from corporate control, we can build a better internet by first building the political power necessary to make it a reality.
Communications technology has effectively cheapened the experience of presence (the "metaverse" will cheapen it even further), and this has revalued it across the entire spectrum of possibilities for experience. We might expect that as video calls become routine and trivial, face-to-face encounters would become dense with ontological significance. But what has happened is that the concept of "real" presence has become confused, more difficult to believe in, harder to locate as it is happening so that we can properly assign it a value. As Molotkow suggests, "presence" may feel real only in the midst of moments of intense separation; it may register only at a distance.