Listening and Falling Silent: Towards Technics of Collectivity
Keywords:Listening, Confinement, Social movements, Sound studies, Digital democracy
This piece reflects on the politics of listening practices and technologies during the 2020 COVID-19 confinement and the ensuing protests against racialized police violence. During this period, two ruptures have occurred in sonic environments and temporalities: first, one of isolation and confinement and, next, one of protest and refusal. I make two points. First, drawing on Hannah Arendt’s work connecting loneliness and totalitarianism, I argue that isolated silence is much more dangerous politically than collective silence. I then begin to show that corporate online communication tools are not designed to facilitate the forms of democratic listening and empathy required to overcome this isolation. I argue that this greater danger of isolated listening forces us to rethink remote listening and communication technologies, as we become ever more aware of the need to coordinate collective action, resource distribution, and democratic listening at a global scale.
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