Gigs will tear you apart: accelerated culture and digital leisure studies
Introduction This chapter looks at perceived gaps in the recent theoretical development of work on digital leisure cultures and how to address them. Drawing upon empirical examples of digital leisure cultures, my aim is to produce a more robust theoretical approach to the so-called ‘digital turn’ in various disciplines. After pioneering work on the nature and contours of ‘digital sociology’ by academics such as Deborah Lupton (Lupton, 2014) it is possible to envisage an emerging digital leisure studies to which this chapter, and this book, contributes and defines (Spracklen, 2015). In this chapter I want to consider new directions in critical perspectives in digital leisure cultures because the present routes forward are often confused, stymied and unsatisfactory, reflecting a more general concern in the population as a whole about our digitised world and how to come to terms with this condition. Urgent questions on digitisation remain unanswered, as they do on globalisation. Specifically, as far as digital leisure cultures are concerned, the crucial question for this chapter is: What are gigabytes doing to us and how can we explain this process? Echoing Manchester United soccer fans’ chant about former player and assistant coach Ryan Giggs, ‘Giggs Will Tear You Apart’ (aimed at opposing fans and based on Joy Division’s classic ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’), I am asking: Will these ‘gigs’ tear us apart? We have certainly become so addicted to the hyperspeed of electronic digital connection that we all feel that familiar sickening stomach churning while we wait for our screens (on whatever platform) as almost a global cultural condition, yet we greedily binge-watch whole series of our favourite television shows in one day once the connection is eventually made a few seconds later. We are back in the realms of asking whether we are now at long last living today in the ‘leisure society’ predicted for us in the 1980s, enabled by globalisation, ‘free markets’ and digitisation.