After seeing pictures on TV—real, fake and hard-to-tell-and-does-it-really-matter (how can I know if the picture I include below is “real”? There are currently very few images of the damage from Trump’s missile strikes available online outside of those produced and shared by Russian journalism. Meanwhile the American military and press are releasing embedded images of the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air. How are our images being produced, controlled, circulated? What are the larger forces that influence virality and visibility? We need time to understand these and all images. We need to think through what to do with what we see. We need time and context and care) …

After he and we saw a picture on TV, Trump, the traditional and social media all moved fast. Too fast. Internet quick. With algorithmic speed. This is the dangerous cycle and logic of virality—one that moves with barely human (what I have called proto-being) momentum from images and tweets to missiles, directives, policing, travel bans all with long-term lived consequences for human beings and nations.

In #100hardtruths #80 I suggested we need strategies to “outlast virality.” “Outlast virility,” I suggest, in relation to a cycle of news, #fakenews, and related actions that have accelerated to a dangerous pitch where rational, legal and ethical care and consideration can no longer be exacted before we act. “Outlast virility” in connection to said speed and the virile weaponized powers of patriarchal aggression it authorizes.

The aftermath of a US air strike on a Syrian military base Instagram/Evegeny Poddubny

In 5 #hardtruths and 2 new pledges @#50 I worried that:

the delightful ambiguities of the fake/real binary are being played by this administration, and the sectors of the media and internet that are built upon and refract them, in ways that are at once confusing, entertaining, distracting and also deadly real for actual people and communities. Understanding and not simply producing contradiction; naming and not evading complexity; breaking through the digital hall of mirrors allow us to breaking through the digital hall of mirrors allow us to focus our attention and action upon the real-world applications of #fakenews, a critical project of this time.

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#62, don’t look

March 25, 2017

In “How Do I (Not) Look? Live Feed Video and Viral Black Death,” July 20, 2016, after the viral visibility of the Diamond Reynold’s live feed video of Philando Castile’s brutal death at the hands of the police, I wrote some #100hardtruths that must still figure:

“We come to this cultural, political and media onslaught as individuals but, it is my contention that each of us must take responsibility for our own acts of looking. When we look (or write) we engage in the regimes of visibility—complex networks of power, ownership, and access that frame our viewing and knowing—that surround and inform violence. Accounting for our place, our needs, our actions in the face of viral videos of murder is one within a constellation of necessary ethical and political acts. This is particularly true because it may feel like our current media conditions of onslaught and abundance allow us no choices at all. When we have the choice to look, we are bound ethically and politically to what we witness and what we do with all we have seen. Below is a brief primer of ways to understand how or why we might (not) look.”

Image adapted from Diamond Reynolds’ video

In that article, I share these principled positions: Don’t Look, Look Askance, Look at Death, and Look at Death’s Platforms and connect these to deeper traditions of thinking about practices of looking.

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