It’s been a strange year but there’s much to say about Digital Intimacies and this year’s theme:
Connection in Crisis
Climate catastrophe, a pandemic, Black Lives Matter, and political failings have shaped the current year in ways we didn’t anticipate. Many of us work from home or in other states of isolation. Many of us miss our friends. We’re lucky to have digital media to stay connected. Or are we? I mean, how connected did you feel after that last Zoom meeting/ tutorial/ webinar/ birthday party/ date?
Is connection in crisis? Or does crisis generate more inventive and meaningful forms of digital connection? What can we say about the state of digital intimacies in 2020?
This year’s theme invites you to explore the connection/crisis aspects of your research or to take up new questions about the current state of things. Connection in crisis also opens space for researcher reflexivity, including sharing experiences and strategising future research for times of COVID-19 and whatever comes next.
Connection and disconnection have long been useful terms to consider how digital media orient us. What are we leaving behind when we take up new modes of communication or new platform uses? And what are we building? What or who are we hoping to connect with? How does it feel to connect with friends, strangers, workplaces, (mis)information, health warnings, activism, death tallies, and burning police cars? How are we connecting to care, or sharing information that might save/endanger lives?
At the same time, how are we disconnecting, protecting ourselves, or obfuscating and escaping connectivity as a way of coping with forms of digital intimacy that are remediated by our current crisis conditions?
Concerns about the isolating effects of social/physical distancing suggest a hierarchy of intimacies, where physical contact intimacy is more authentic, necessary, and healthy. But the intimacy of social and digital media has long been discussed, as per previous Digital Intimacies symposia. Also, what happens when sex is no longer safe because of non-sexually transmitted infections? What happens when safe/domestic spaces become sites of digital connection, production, and labour?
There’s much to be said about platform governance, TikTok, social distancing, digital sex, self-isolation, time out, mental health, working from home, filters, schooling from home, affective labour, and more. These are just some themes to explore.
We look forward to seeing you at DI6, 7-9 December 2020, at the University of Technology Sydney
Paul Byron, Suneel Jethani, Amelia Johns, Natalie Krikowa
Digital and Social Media team, School of Communication
See last year’s program here