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Dark Side of Action

2011 was a year full of political upheaval and protest. From the Arab Spring to the Occupy movements, thousands of people took to the streets demanding (and enforcing!) change. Focusing on collective action, however, we tend to neglect what can happen to individual participants who find themselves under enormous pressure to succeed, to perform, and generally save the world… In this session, we want to broach the taboo of depression and failure in a (hack)tivist context, taking a step back from the challenges at hand to look at the effects on people getting involved – as well as those who can’t get involved.. It’s not as scary as it sounds!

Suitable for all and trigger-happy in a positive way, Anwen will be presenting an assortment of ideas and iconic images from science and art history, following the trace of depression and melancholy from ancient hermits and Noonday Demons to the digital natives of today. We will explore the “dark side” of action – compassion fatigue, depression, shellshock, burnout, suicides –, and talk about how the (social) Net can become more of a safety net for its inhabitants.

Stephan will be sharing some examples from his personal experience as a Telecomix agent: Hackers, especially those who work with activists on the ground, see the consequences of their actions and inactions every day, putting themselves and others under immense pressure and “burning the candle from both ends”. But we also want to talk about the different patterns of behaviour and interaction that let such situations develop and about the measures that networks and jellyfish clusters can implement to not only solve these problems, but to also ensure a healthier way of interacting and behaving in future.