New Criticals

In this essay, I meditate on the work of social networking and the implications of users extracting themselves from this work arrangement. Media refusal is a term I use to refer to the conscious disavowal of media, which can take the form of rejecting a specific platform, technology, or corporation (see Portwood-Stacer 2012). In popular discourse, such rejection is often termed "opting out"; in many popular accounts, people describe “breaking up with” Facebook and other corporations. I am interested in active refusal as a tactical response to the perceived harms engendered by a capitalist system in which media corporations have disproportionate power over their platforms’ users, who, it may be said, provide unpaid labor for corporations whenever they log on.  In line with my other scholarship that attempts to contextualize and productively critique practices of lifestyle activism (Portwood-Stacer 2013), I am currently interrogating the tactic of media refusal to understand what strategic efficacy this practice might have, especially in light of considerations of gender and other systems of power.