“Through its clever structure, Disconnect affectively lures the reader as Tero Karppi tells a convincing story of how social media sets the tone, mood, and modality of our everyday existence. Compellingly written, this is a must-read modern tale of engagement and disconnection.”
— Zizi Papacharissi, author of Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology, and Politics
Disconnect: Facebook’s Affective Bonds
No matter how pervasive and powerful social media websites become, users always have the option of disconnecting—right? Not exactly, as Tero Karppi reveals in this disquieting book.
Pointing out that platforms like Facebook see disconnection as an existential threat—and have undertaken wide-ranging efforts to eliminate it—Karppi argues that users’ ability to control their digital lives is gradually dissipating.
Taking a nonhumancentric approach, Karppi explores how modern social media platforms produce and position users within a system of coded relations and mechanisms of power. For Facebook, disconnection is an intense affective force. It is a problem of how to keep users engaged with the platform, but also one of keeping value, attention, and desires within the system. Karppi uses Facebook’s financial documents as a map to navigate how the platform sees its users. Facebook’s plans to connect the entire globe through satellites and drones illustrates the material webs woven to keep us connected. Karppi analyzes how Facebook’s interface limits the opportunity to opt-out—even continuing to engage users after their physical death. Showing how users have fought to take back their digital lives, Karppi chronicles responses like Web2.0 Suicide Machine, an art project dedicated to committing digital suicide.
For Karppi, understanding social media connectivity comes from unbinding the bonds that stop people from leaving these platforms. Disconnection brings us to the limit of user policies, algorithmic control, and platform politics. Ultimately, Karppi’s focus on the difficulty of disconnection, rather than the ease of connection, reveals how social media has come to dominate human relations.
University of Minnesota Press, October 2018
$22.00 paper ISBN 978-1-5179-0307-7
$88.00 cloth ISBN 978-1-5179-0306-0
192 pages 1 b&w photo, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
“Disconnect is a timely, theoretically rich assessment of Facebook as platform and assemblage. Rhetorics of connectivity dominate Silicon Valley, and Tero Karppi helps illuminate and describe the complex, flickering patterns of connection and disconnection that envelope the networked users of such platforms. This is a valuable, accessible guide to the politics and poetics of Facebook.”
— Amit Ray, Rochester Institute of Technology
“Disconnect could not have come at a more important time. Tero Karppi’s nuanced writing brings out the rich complexities of social media life and disconnection. This must-read book shows that walking away may not remove Facebook’s presence in our lives, but it reveals the limits of social media in our world and the business models that are built to keep us connected.”
— Jason Farman, author of Delayed Response: The Art of Waiting from the Ancient to the Instant World*
”Disconnect” är ett ambitiöst försök att förklara hur sociala medier har kunnat få ett så starkt grepp om sina användare att frånkoppling idag ses som en social avvikelse. Karppi lyckas väl med sin ambition, inte minst när det gäller att slå hål på myten om kreativa och engagerade ”prosumenter” utan att för den sakens skull reducera Facebooks användare till manipulerade offer.
— André Jansson, Professor of Media and Communication Studies, Karlstad University, Svenska Dagbladet, Jan 4, 2019
“The strength of this research is in its absolute attention to detail. The author masters the unruly and competing aspects of this incredibly complex, and swiftly evolving organisation, examining them through a well-chosen range of conceptual frameworks. […] A particular strength of the book is the way in which the discussion of affect, which can sometimes be nebulous and somewhat abstracted, is repeatedly pinned down into specific mechanisms, policies and strategies, with subtlety and far-reaching insight. Over all, the book is wonderful, and will serve as a valuable addition to the growing body of work on, and critique of, social media generally and Facebook specifically.”
— Andrew Prior, Leonardo, June 2019
“Disconnect pays homage to existing work on nonuse, but as that literature is somewhat scant, it has the potential to occupy an important place in future research on tensions between platforms and (non)participants. Both scholars and advanced students of media, platform, and software studies will find Disconnect an important read, as we often think of how things as designed for users, but not as designed against nonuse.”— Nathanael Bassett, New Media & Society, July 3 2019
January 28, 2019, 5:30-7:30PM
Toronto, ON, Centre for Social Innovation, 192 Spadina Ave.
Decimal Lab (UOIT) / Technocultural Questions
February 7, 2019, 16:00–17:30 GMT
Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, UK / critical inquiry with and about the digital
February 11, 2019, 11-12 GMT
Winchester School of Art, Lecture Theatre A, Southampton, UK / Archaeologies of Media and Technology Research group
March 29, 2019, 4-6PM
Toronto, ON, Ryerson University / The Catalyst at FCAD
April 19, 2019
TBA, The AI Now Institute, New York City