Marx’s alienation, dialectical materialism and stratification theory, provides a lens through which to explore an explosion of statistical studies regarding on-line interaction and possible Internet addiction (IA). Acclaimed authors Turkle, Greenwald and Foer, warn that consumer interaction in the digital world has risks that can be countered by individual responsibility and action. Their claims are juxtaposed to what ordinary, individual, cell phone and social media users self-report en masse about their on-line experience, documented in thousands of statistical and empirical studies. Marx’s Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and Marx’s Theory of Alienation by Mészáros are used to explore what alienation looks like in a perpetuum mobile world. The analysis melds Marx’s alienation theory to findings, presenting a Marx inspired system of interactive appropriation and alienation. Regardless of how Internet users experience social media; or differing interpretations of addiction; or how researchers study internet usage; one undisputable fact emerges: this electronically mediated mode of production appropriates wealth from Internet users to enrich what appears to be a 1% class of telecommunication industry owners. Other conclusions are: Marx’s theories apply in a non-Machine epoch context, in which: the intangible electronic memory volunteered by telecommunication customers, who may risk Internet addiction (IA), is a free by-product of a system of appropriation exchanged for alienation, which is in a transitional mode, representing potential future surplus value. Given this, IA might help increase telecommunication industry profits, government contracts, money hoarding and turn over. The presuppositions of the paper are: 1) on-line communication is, according to statistics, normal, pervasive and potentially addictive; 2) statistical studies are a scientific cornerstone of sociological research; 3) studies discussed may, or may not, honestly represent what ordinary users of social media report; 4) Marx’s theories and methods are part of sociology’s cannon and 5) Internet addiction (IA) is considered a global problem, although it lacks official medical etiology and researchers across disciplines (communication, psychology, medicine, to name a few) disagree about what causes it.

alienation, Marx, Internet Addiction (IA), social media, telecommunication, cell phone, AI

DOI: 10.52950/SS.2018.7.1.005


APA citation:
NOEL PACKARD (2018). Habitual Interaction Estranged. International Journal of Social Sciences, Vol. VII(1), pp. 69-94. , DOI: 10.52950/SS.2018.7.1.005

Received: 16 Dec 2017
Revised: 28 Jan 2018
Accepted: 6 Mar 2018
Published: 20 Mar 2018

Copyright © 2018, Noel Packard et al, packarnoel@myvuw.ac.nz