Deterritorialization and Reterritorialization
Active Defences against Algo-Induced Polarization
The Algo’s used in social media engines polarize us. We keep feeding our own biases. Since we can't do without social media that much, we have to find ways of moderating our vulnerabilities to these machines.
Okay, the solution is deterritorialization and reterritorialization (whatever that means), but what is the problem?
The problem is “Polarization” and a One-Track Mind that exists due to the new era of social media. The problem was described in the article below.
The Algos, Narratives, and Polarization: You keep feeding on your own biases.
And there is no end to it.
Even though we live in an era where information is abundant, we have become more polarized and less flexible in our thought processes because we only consume content leaning towards a particular view. We become far removed from the reality of others, as we get pushed to the extremes, and we become so distanced from tolerating any thought process that is not consistent with the path that we have already chosen and the content that the algo is already feeding us.
How is this a problem? It's a problem because we will never be able to think or see what's on the other side, and we will never be able to reconcile with those on the other side. Our minds operate in the box we create for ourselves, and we can't get out. In order to live a full life, we have to get out of that box, change the path and be able to digest content outside of the pathway that the algo feeds us. In short, we need to be complete human beings. To achieve that completeness, we need to find ways of busting the algos and escaping from the one track. Deterritorialization and reterritorialization, developed by Deleuze and Guattari offer insights into how we can successfully do this.
This is a solution that operates on the Self layer. It's not a solution that fixes the system. It's a solution for an individual who is existing in this system that is driven by Algos and recommendation engines that polarize us. In short, it is not scale-invariant, its scale variant. It won't work at the corporate layer, institutional layer, or system level.
Embracing Deterritorialization and Caressing Reterritorialization
What is this? The center word is “territory”. Territorialization is the process of gaining territory, occupying a territory, claiming territory, and becoming familiar with the territory.
In the social media context, your territory is the narrative playground that you are in. It is your daily feed. It's those fields of information that you are used to. It's your field of knowledge. It's a territory that you have conquered.
Deterritorialization is the process of moving away from your comfort zone. It is deliberately de-constructing your so-called facts so that you can be able to absorb a new field of new facts. It is actively building the capacity to see beyond the limitations of the algo by destroying what the algo has been giving you. Reterritorialization is coming back to structure a place that has experienced deterritorialization.
If you are a Red Pill guy, deterritorialization is destroying your red pill content from the recommendation engine and foraying into feminist content, so that you can understand feminism. If you belong to the feminist tribe, you deterritorialize by actively un-feeding the algo, starving it of feminist likes, punishing it, so that you open room in your mind space for red pill content. This will allow you to understand different worldviews, and different “realities” and still be able to reason things out on your own. After deterritorializing and reterritorializing, your worldview will be complete.
Some blinkers that we have are a result of the education system and the capitalist mode of production. The specialization therein entails excelling in one field. A Climate Scientist is trained to be a climate scientist. To understand developmental economics, the scientist has to deterritorialize first. The climate scientist ought to mentally deconstruct everything he knows about climate science, and then foray into a new territory of developmental economics. By deterritorializing, the scientist creates a room to learn something new. The scientist will see reality from the eyes of those in developed countries who are still trying to industrialize their economies. Upon this understanding, the climate scientist can then reterritorialize back to climate science but with a proper understanding of different territories and can be able to come up with solutions that are balanced.
This applies to almost every field of knowledge. Your body of knowledge isn't all there is to know. There is more to know. In order to fully immerse into that other body of knowledge, you first need to deterritorialize.
Sometimes deterritorialization must happen in a confrontational manner. There are instances where one needs to deterritorialize others. This means conquering a specific space, that is already occupied by others. This is slightly different from you actively and willingly moving away from your space. This is war. This is you, going to dismantle other peoples’ comfort zone so you can occupy them. This is a very important step for creative innovation. You see, you go, and then you conquer.
Sometimes, the incumbents and the so-called experts have some landmarks and features that they don't fully understand regarding their territories. You, an outsider, can immerse yourself into this and understand the features better, and then territorialize that space.
The internet culture has lately been that of criticizing and ridiculing non-experts who comment on issues outside of their domains. Of course, one has to fully understand something before commenting. However, of late, the world has witnessed on numerous occasions, the predictions, and understanding of experts being as wrong as those of novices. The internet has also democratized access to information. A “nobody” can self-learn and understand the same ins and outs of some things as much as a credentialed expert does.
The democratization of knowledge is like an open tool that gives random people the ability to flow through different territories, deterritorializing and reterritorializing. At the individual level, you ought to utilize this tool to know as much as you can.
Imagine living all of your life in your small town, in some remote part of the country, without traveling 50km beyond your town. Would you say you have lived a full, complete, and satisfying life? No, you wouldn't. Even if, in your ignorance, you reckon you had a good life, those who know the world will obviously understand your perceptive limitations.
When the new era of globalization and social media tries to deterritorialize you, do not resist. Embrace deterritorialization. When the algo feeds you something that is far from your likes, do not penalize it by disliking that. Tolerate that content. That's how you learn new things. Once you have been deterritorialized, you can always reterritorialize. You have to embrace deterritorialization and caress reterritorialization.
To free ourselves from the loop of the algos that drive us into a state of polarization, we need to (at an individual level) constantly deterritorialize and reterritorialize.
As usual, the first step in dealing with a problem is being aware that there is a problem. We are aware that there is a problem with the Algos. The next step is actively deterritorializing and reterritorializing all the time.