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While the term "digital pandemic" may not have the same connotations as a biological pandemic, it has significant biological repercussions on the overall health of populations (cognitive load, technological stress, social pressure to pursue an ideal life, domestic violence, autoimmune diseases, cultural and political stress, work-related stress, addictions, ADHD, anxiety, self-harm, etc.). It reflects the growing threat posed by the rapid dissemination of harmful and manipulative digital content in our interconnected world. Addressing this challenge requires collective action, informed decision-making, scientific research, and ongoing vigilance to protect populations worldwide.

The context that interests us represents a source of exponential stress and allostatic load[1] (Juster, McEwen, Lupien, 2010). It is evident: one does not remain captive to a "fight-flight-freeze" digital logic (simultaneous combat, flight, and immobilization on a screen that exploits and distorts our attraction to negative stimuli) without becoming increasingly stressed by the unconscious injection of economic codes that condition us like Pavlov's dogs. Psychosocial stress produces changes in cognition, affect, behavior (Wolf, 2018), while a growing number of studies demonstrate the effects of stress on inflammatory reactions and the immune system (Yan, 2016). Pruett (2003) reminds us that there is now irrefutable evidence demonstrating that stress responses can cause clinically relevant immunosuppression as well as other types of immune system dysfunction. The production or action of stress mediators are the main culprits of undesirable immunological effects.

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While many actions on social media remain within legal boundaries, their potential to manipulate, exploit, and harm individuals and societal structures calls for a reexamination of legal and ethical standards. Indeed, the dynamics of social media and digital platforms, driven by algorithms and data exploitation, create a highly vulnerable ecosystem. Psychological manipulation, data exploitation, misinformation, socio-political influence, and economic manipulation contribute to a landscape where individual autonomy, privacy, mental health, and democratic processes are at risk.
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The rise of meme stocks (Aloosh, Choi, Ouzan, 2021) underscores the powerful role social media plays in modern financial markets. By enabling rapid information dissemination, fostering herd behavior, and sometimes propagating misinformation, social media can significantly influence stock prices and market dynamics. While this democratization of market influence empowers retail investors, it also introduces new risks and challenges, including market volatility, regulatory scrutiny, and the potential for financial instability.

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[1]Allostatic load refers to the cumulative burden of chronic stress and life events. Juster, McEwen, and Lupien (2010) suggest that by incorporating an allostatic load index representing neuroendocrine, immune, metabolic, and cardiovascular system functioning, numerous studies have demonstrated greater prediction of morbidity and mortality over and beyond traditional detection methods employed in biomedical practice. Poenaru

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The concept of "scopic colonialism" (SC) is not widely addressed in scientific literature. However, there exists a rich body of research on capitalism, colonialism, scopic capitalism (Illouz, 2021), and colonial capitalism (Ulas Ince, 2018). By integrating these diverse perspectives and considering the available observations, we can posit the hypothesis that contemporary digital societies contend with a distinct form of SC. This phenomenon reproduces colonial ideologies at both individual and collective levels by perpetuating and reinforcing the power dynamics, hierarchies, and ideologies that were characteristic of colonial rule: control of representation, construction of otherness (the colonized "Other" as fundamentally different and inferior to the colonizers), reproduction of hegemony, normalization of colonial narratives, perpetuation of power structures, etc.  

The logics of colonialism refer to the ideologies, social structures, political frameworks, and thought patterns that underpinned and justified colonial expansion. They are deeply rooted in the history of European expansion across the globe, where European nations conquered, occupied, and exploited vast territories and populations in the name of colonial power. Colonizers frequently justified their dominance through claims of cultural and racial superiority, economic exploitation, exertion of stringent political and social control over colonized territories, and assimilation of indigenous populations into the culture, language, and norms of the colonizers (Césaire, 2001; Fanon, 2001). Colonial logics were frequently rationalized by ideologies such as civilizing colonialism, which purported to bring civilization, progress, and development to colonized territories.

 

We assert that in the context of SC, the global dissemination of media and technology, viewed as colonial tools and weapons, yields narratives and ideologies that perpetuate colonialism across both mental and biological domains. This phenomenon no longer exclusively concerns territories and populations categorized as inferior and in need of assimilation into a process of civilization. Everyone is rendered inferior in the face of the unrepresentable and unpredictable advancement of artificial intelligence and corporate powers. We could even propose the concept of "reverse colonialism." With the invasion of digital culture, we are witnessing a reversal of colonialism: it is the populations of the wealthiest countries who are currently exposed to the SC we are describing. We could even propose the concept of "reverse colonialism." For it is highly likely that, with the invasion of digital culture, we are witnessing a reversal of colonialism: it is the populations of the wealthiest countries who are currently exposed to the scopic colonialism we are describing.

 

SC affects the entire global population, subjecting individuals to the dominance of economic powers through a prevailing logic of programmed and perpetual obsolescence. This compels individuals to adjust their aspirations, behaviors, moral values, etc., due to the fear of social and economic exclusion. Whether consciously or unconsciously, people internalize and reproduce these dominant narratives, thereby contributing to the perpetuation of colonial logics and power structures. Consequently, SC extends the influence of colonial logics beyond physical territories and populations to the mental landscapes of individuals, shaping their understanding of themselves, others, and the world around them. 

L. Poenaru, Scopic Colonialism (work in progress).

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One of the theses we defend concerns the vicious distraction-dissociation that manufactures "ordinary" hypnosis to better influence the unconscious. Indeed, the dominant culture of indispensable entertainment seems to offer recreation while simultaneously preparing the unconscious for the massive injection of consumption and propaganda codes.

Poenaru

LIVRES

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Quand la liberté d’expression se ramène en fait à la liberté de propagande pour les organisations de ce genre, les seules parties de l’âme humaine qui méritent de s’exprimer ne sont pas libres de le faire. Ou elles le sont à un degré infinitésimal, à peine davantage que dans le système totalitaire.

Simone Weil, La personne et le sacré, 1943.

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