We Are Not Sick

Geert Lovink
Past event


Geert Lovink discusses the dark side of the net. The mental state of internet users is tragic. Instead of empowerment and self-organization, what we mostly see around the internet is anger and despair. How did we end up like this? This lecture by the renowned media theorist, internet critic, and author will zoom in on the widespread techno-sadness that is produced by dominant social media platforms through “behavioral modification” (also known as “nudging”) with the aim to keep users coming back to the app, exposing them to even more personalized ads. Instead of empowerment and diversity, we witness a “chilling effect” of hyper-conformism, resulting in anger, sadness, depression, and loneliness. This is the social today.


Presented as part of Staying on the Grid: Platforms, Psyches, and Pathsa series of panels offering a glimpse into a new digital future worth inhabiting.

Please note: We Are Not Sick contains discussions of mental illness.

The program includes a post-event talk with Geert Lovink, moderated by Ben Grosser.

Dystopian…a scathing indictment of a technology that transforms the very notion of self into a sharing platform.

Eva Illouz, author of Why Love Hurts: A Sociological Explanation

We Are Not Sick is organized by California Institute of the Arts MA in Aesthetics and Politics Program and the School of Critical Studies.

about the panelists

Geert Lovink

Geert Lovink is a Dutch media theorist, internet critic, and author of Uncanny Networks (2002), Dark Fiber (2002), My First Recession (2003), Zero Comments (2007), Networks Without a Cause (2012), Social Media Abyss (2016), Organization after Social Media (with Ned Rossiter, 2018) and Sad by Design (2019). Almost all his books have been translated into German, Italian, and Spanish. In 2019, an anthology of his work appeared in Russian.

Lovink got his MA in Social and Political Sciences from the University of Amsterdam in 1984 and did his PhD at the English department, Media and Communication program at the University of Melbourne (2002). He was a postdoc at the University of Queensland in 2003. In 2004, he was appointed research professor (lector) at the Amsterdam University of Applied Science where he founded the Institute of Network Cultures. In 2005-2006, he was a fellow at Institute of Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin. From 2007-2017, he was professor of Media Theory at the European Graduate School where he supervised five PhD theses. From 2004-2012, he was associate professor in the digital cultures program of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam where he supervised numerous MA theses.

His institute organizes conferences, publications, and research networks, such as Video Vortex (aesthetics and politics of online video), Unlike Us (alternatives in social media), Critical Point of View (Wikipedia), Society of the Query (the culture of search), and MoneyLab (blockchain and internet-based revenue models in the arts). Recent projects deal with digital publishing and the future of art criticism.

Twitter  Website


Ben Grosser

Ben Grosser creates interactive experiences, machines, and systems that examine the cultural, social, and political effects of software. Exhibition venues include Eyebeam (New York), Somerset House and the Barbican Centre (London), Centre Pompidou (Paris), SXSW (Austin), Museum of Modern Art (Moscow), Museu das Comunicações (Lisbon), Museum Kesselhaus (Berlin), Science Gallery (Dublin), Japan Media Arts Festival (Tokyo), IMPAKT Festival (Utrecht, Netherlands), and the Digital Arts Festival (Athens). His works have been featured in The New Yorker, Wired, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, PBS, Fast Company, Hyperallergic, BBC, The Telegraph, Le Monde, Corriere della Sera, Der Spiegel, El País, and Folha. The Guardian (UK), writing about his film Order of Magnitude, said “there will be few more telling artworks [from] the first decades of this century … a mesmerising monologue, the story of our times.” Speaking about his social media-focused projects, RTÉ (Ireland) described Grosser as an “antipreneur.” Slate referred to his work as “creative civil disobedience in the digital age.” Grosser’s artworks are regularly cited in books investigating the cultural effects of technology, including The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, The Metainterface, and Investigative Aesthetics, as well as volumes centered on computational art practices, such as Electronic Literature, The New Aesthetic and Art, and Digital Art. Grosser is an associate professor of new media at the University of Illinois and an assembly fellow with the Institute for Rebooting Social Media at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

Instagram  Facebook  Twitter  Website