The Performative Nature of Digital Militancy

The Performative Nature of Digital Militancy

Rebellion against the capitalist digital realm seems alluring in the same way that tipping over cars does while apart of a mob. In the heat of the moment, the act might feel like a statement to some establishment, but in reality, an innocent owner of the vehicle takes the hit. The question then becomes how can we express our dissatisfaction against the system without harming (possibly innocent) individuals? In Chris Gilliard’s “Pedagogy and the Logic of Platforms,” he speaks of “leveraging the classroom to make visible the effects of surveillance capitalism” (Gilliard). I am concerned with this statement for a few reasons. Firstly, any time a classroom is used to push a particular agenda is a misuse of its purpose, even if said agenda is widely considered morally or ethically good. Secondly, any time spent on said agenda detracts from time spent on the subject of the course itself. The latter is something I have personally experienced during my own studies. The only appropriate time to discuss (not push) any agenda is in a class that covers or is related to the topic of the agenda.

The reach of technology is long and ubiquitous, and its mixture with the education system was inevitable. That being said, the important thing to focus on in the present is how the two interact and shape the future for the benefit of all. This obviously requires some finesse, which requires a fair amount of time. As a researcher for KNIT, I feel it is my duty to spend that time in order to positively contribute to the situation at hand: “democratization of scholarship and culture” (“The Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0”). Information cannot continue to exist strictly for the select few who wander college campuses and only while they’ve paid their fees (whatever that looks like). However, affecting change here also requires nuance that militant voices and actions won’t provide. I agree that the runaway capitalization of the much of the internet has gone too far, but I don’t think that a violent overthrow is how to fix the problem. The internet of today is so entangled with neo-capitalism that to act extremely against the current powers that control so much of our daily lives via the internet could have catastrophic results. Dave Chappelle said it best in his stand-up comedy special “The Bird Revelation,” “I just think that you can’t make a lasting peace this way…the minute [the “bad guys” are] not scared anymore, it will get worse than it was before” (Chappelle). I’m not sure what worse looks like, but I’m not particularly interested in finding out.


  1. I agree with that agenda should stay out of the classrooms since classrooms are a safe space to educate, therefore I would be extremely interested in a class that covered the history of the internet so we can better understand its faults, its merits, and how to improve it.

  2. Very well put, Zach! I am inclined to agree with you and Chapelle in regards to cyclical the nature of conflict, one side can have the upper hand and get their way until they don’t and can only anticipate the pendulum to swing back with more force. We must reason with the other side or all of our sake’s, regardless of the context!

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