Category Archives: capitalist temporalities

A Coming Crisis of Temporalities? Disruptions of Atomic and Solar Time

In their chapter Time and Space of the edited volume Critical Terms for Media Studies (2010), Mitchell and Hansen address a fundamental question that has puzzled philosophers and media thinkers since Ancient Greece: can time and space “be defined objectively, without recourse to human experience and distinctively human modes of perception and understanding” (p. 106)? According to Aristotle, they explain, “there is no time that is not measured […], which is equally to say that there is no time in itself, there are only temporalizations, technico-empirical specifications of time” (p. 111). Technological development, more specifically advances in the accuracy of measurement and tracking of time, introduces new temporalities which in turn disrupt those already present. The atomic clock, introduced in 1967, has been such a technological development, and has arguably disrupted existing temporalities like no other technology before then. In this short essay, we will discuss this disruption, leading to a potential scission between the time displayed on our clocks and the cycle of the sun. Is such a fundamental shift even conceivable? Continue reading »

The Short and the Sweet: Social Media Temporalities

Social media have been examined from nearly every angle available; they have been demonized, exulted, dismissed and celebrated for their frivolity. However, no matter what your opinion on the subject, one thing that is clear is that social media is demanding more and more of people’s time in our society. We give social media an inch of our time, and it tries to take a mile.

In this study, I examine various social media websites and apps through a lens of temporality. In order to make money, social media companies structure users’ time in a two-fold manner. First, as Christian Fuchs explains, social media websites are designed to keep users coming back more often, and for longer periods of time. Second, as I argue in this paper, social media structure the content on their sites temporally as well in service of the same goals. This can be done through the imposition of time limits on the existence of data, or through the recollection of data from years past. The imposed temporal regimes of the sites in question – Snapchat, Bumble, Timehop, and Facebook – offer new forms of communication which are interesting to users and keep them engaged, while simultaneously offering capital benefits to the companies that make them. Continue reading »