Inflexions No. 10 – Exhaustion
(Excerpt from the Introduction: For an Ethology of Exhaustion)
Exhausted through overwork, incapable of productive activity, I found myself drifting through social networks, feeling my depression and exhaustion increasing. (Fisher 2013)
It is commonplace to observe that, in today’s societies of connectivity, our lives are constantly tracked, our behaviour is checked, our performances assessed. Anxious to meet the requirements of quantitative “performance indicators,” we hardly ever get to do our actual work, bring our work to full term, or decidedly refuse work—work, produce, work, produce, endlessly. As the late Mark Fisher suggested, the amount of work we do actually keeps us from being productive in an emphatic sense of the word, that is, developing creative ways of encountering the various (philosophical, artistic, etc.) problems posed by existence. Instead, we feed the field of social and economic relations that exhaust us as we run after deadlines, fulfil quotas and complete administrative chores. Even outside of our strictly professional occupations, we perceive an increased pressure to perform our (active, popular, successful) selves who participate in the experience economy. It appears that Fear of Missing Out intensified by social media that are “always on” only further increases their use which, in turn, causes sleep deprivation and exhaustion (Levenson et al. 2016).