Re-colonization of Public Space
Bauman cites that a gap has 'emerged and grown precisely because of the emptying of public space..."The 'citizen' is a person inclined to seek her or his own welfare through the well-being of the city - while the individual tends to be lukewarm, skeptical, or wary about 'common cause', 'common good', 'good society', or 'just society'. What is the sense of 'common interests' except letting each individual satisfy her or his own? (Bauman 2000:36).
Bauman contests that, "It is the private that colonizes the public space, squeezing out and chasing away everything which cannot be fully, without residue, expressed in the vernacular of private concerns, worries and pursuits (Bauman 2000:39). Applying this theory turns the cell phone into both a status symbol and a substitution for what is missed in society. It has become an institution for the social, just as the educational system is an institution that replaces the family, or the health system for family doctor. As Bauman continues, "the escape of real power into the territory which, for all that the extant democratic institutions are able to accomplish, can only be described as an 'outer space'(Bauman 2000:39).
The outer space into which power has flown is what individuals seek to recapture. If they have to venture into outer space to recapture what has been lost by the vacation of the public sphere to the individual, by the citizen to the paranoid shopper, then this 'outer space' has become a new place. If, according to Augé, non-spaces discourage "settling in", then non-spaces are open to the colonization of the technosocial device on every stage that has been ripped away from its social roots. Every place that has seen its citizenship fall to individual concerns is open to reconnection of the social by means of the cell phone.
Sociologist Emelie Durkheim did a study on populations – he found that those of Catholic faith were less likely to commit suicide than those of Protestant faith .Did it have something to do with religion? Further research suggested that those with Catholic faiths were more likely to have stronger familiar ties and be part of a community, whereas hose with Protestant ties were most likely to work alone, deny themselves pleasures –(reword) and be less community oriented. He found that those who were isolated from others had fewer connections.
In Emelie Durkheim’s perspective, a malnourished public sphere deprives individuals of real social connections. In the face of this anomie, the cell phone allows an organic social network. Through the subject and the technology combined, the subject can become an Actor on the larger Actor Network. If the human spends time in a non-place, then the addition of a non-place accessed through the telephone tears through the solitary contractility characterized by the non-place. Both the place and the non-place can exist at once, because in the supermodern perspective all dichotomies blur into one another. Compare this to the former world of forward focused isolation --- TV, one way signals, into a world of interactivity. Before, the screen was far away. Now we live in that screen.
“What emerges from the fading social norms is naked, frightened, aggressive ego in search of love and help. In the search for itself and an affectionate sociality, it easily gets lost in the jungle of the self; someone who is poking around in the fog of his of his or her own self is no longer capable of noticing that this isolation, this 'solitary-confinement of the ego' is a mass sentence” [Ulrich Beck, 40 in Bauman 2000:37].
The isolated human in the non-place seeks to reconnect with those in proximity, but cannot. The cell phone is used as a substitute for interaction, but the cellphone user really wishes for face-to-face interaction over virtual interaction, and thus manages face to feign importance.