Vicariousness

As the pressure to individuate and isolate oneself has intensfied over the centuries of capitalism’s hegemony in the West, as individualism (and the supposed convenience of eschewing social interaction) has taken its place as the consumer society’s chief value, as pan-optic societal institutions have increasingly atomized people to better subject them to its codes, there has developed a shadow desire to maintain connections to other people, to ease the burden of isolation.

This is usually played out through entertainment consumption. Most entertainment hinges on vicarious identification, which is the refied form of a personal relation with another person. Vicariousness becomes a way to seem as though you are having a relationship with someone while at the same time allowing that relationship to be efficient, convienient, ends-oriented, and so on. It allows the relationship to function as a commodity. Eventually the vicarious relation we learn from entertainment comes to govern our actual realtions to people, so we sympathize with people while remaining aloof, a spectator of our own relationships.

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