[an excerpt from “We Follow Because We Must: Building on the David Foster Wallace definition of ‘addict’ in the 2019 era of social media” by TK Camas]
Honestly, I’m not keen on forcing a writer who cannot defend himself and his work to do exactly that. Instead, I will present my own theory on entertainment’s role in fostering an addictive landscape not unlike that of religious devotion, and social media today, through the lens of David Foster Wallace’s definition of addiction.
Some context: On the surface, of course, he’s right; dig deeper, and he’s a bit wrong, but then, dig deeper still, and there, you will find him, right again. This is the power of David Foster Wallace, his total existence within the deep depths. He challenges you; he asks that you simply use that “map”* between your ears. To this end, David Foster Wallace will always be right, if and when you actually reach the deepest depths of the deepest depth. But for now, I will answer the question (hopefully) looming in your mind, What is she talking about?
I am talking about David Foster Wallace’s (from now on abbreviated as DFW) assessment that —with the dawn of the internet—people will desire a “gatekeeper,”** a person (or thing) to whom or which we may “give ourselves away,”*** because with regards to this information overload and the “Interlace grid,” or internet, he argues, “We’re going to beg for it. We are literally gonna pay for it. But once we do that, then all these democratic hoo-hah dreams of the Internet will of course have gone down the pipes. And we’re back again to three or four Hollywood studios, or four or five publishing houses …”****
*A well-known (and my absolute, personal favorite euphemism) DFW-ism for the brain, used in both Infinite Jest and Lipsky’s Although.
**Lipsky (2010) p 87 and all heretofore footnotes of the solo-page-number type will reference this Lipsky book.
Lipsky, David. Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace. New York, NY: Broadway Books, 2010.
McCarten, Anthony. The Pope: Francis, Benedict, and the decision that shook the world. New York, NY: Flatiron Books, 2019.
Owens, Simon. January 17, 2019. “Is It Time to Regulate Social Media Influencers?” New York Magazine. http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/01/is-it-time-to-regulate-social-media-influencers.html (accessed 03/30/2019).
Wallace, David Foster. Infinite Jest. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 1996.