A very brief reminder

of how hegemony works

Aug 17, 2021


As I sit with others in my Zoom meeting space, their faces appear in their own small windows, laid out like a gallery exhibition on my screen. When the connection goes bad, their images might freeze or pixelate. If talking, their voices might be distorted. These technological disruptions are almost invisible because they have become normalized in the everyday use of digital media for interaction. 

We simply no longer recognize these glitches as a shockingly clear sign of the fact that what is being transmitted is not the actual image or voice but a digital representation. Whatever is seen and heard by my camera and microphone is translated immediately into bits of data– 0s or 1s that are encoded, somehow packaged and sent as electrical impulses through the internet to my colleagues’ machines. There, these pulses are decoded and translated back into the bits that create a simulacra of my face and voice.

The various layers through which hegemony happens —tacit routines, infrastructural functions or default features of digital platforms, and everyday conversation that reinforces the status quo — dull a person’s ability to notice, much less critique, how certain stakeholders’ interests are privileged over others’.