The Performative Emergence of 5G as an Unreal Object

Ryan Burns, Tanya Kant

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Current debates about digital technology are caught in a death spiral of gloom, doom and anxiety. After a long period of optimism that accompanied the explosion of social media and assumptions of their democratic potential, today’s discourse is dominated by fear. Fear about the unchecked power of digital monopolies like Facebook, Google and Amazon; about the (ab)use of social media by far right political movements; about the psychopathologies, risks and trade-offs associated with constant and unyielding connectivity; fears about the radical surveillance enabled by the digital.What are the actual dangers we face in a world where almost every aspect of our life is digitally mediated? What are the ways people are trying to respond to these dangers, individually and collectively? What solutions do society and technology offer for challenging total digital interpellation? This international conference will explore the digital pessimism that is currently engulfing our understanding of the internet and social media, and assess possibilities for resistance.We shall explore a number of connected topics: risks connected to datafication and surveillance; dangers connected to authoritarian uses of the internet; the psychological perils of pervasive connection; and citizen/activist efforts to respond to these threats. The conference will include various panels, on a number of issues includingDigital Overload/Digital Detox, Precarity and Automation, Activism and Oppression, Surveillance, Algorithmic Discrimination, Digital Politics.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
Event'Resisting Digital Culture: dystopias, distortions, disconnections' - King's College London, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 May 201910 May 2019


Conference'Resisting Digital Culture: dystopias, distortions, disconnections'
CountryUnited Kingdom


  • media
  • technology
  • mobile
  • 5G networks
  • 5G.

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    Burns, R., & Kant, T. (2019). The Performative Emergence of 5G as an Unreal Object. Abstract from 'Resisting Digital Culture: dystopias, distortions, disconnections', London, United Kingdom.