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Searching for Integrity: The Politics of Mindfulness in the Digital Economy

TitleSearching for Integrity: The Politics of Mindfulness in the Digital Economy
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsHealey, K
JournalNomos Journal
Start Page
Date PublishedAugust 5, 2013
Keywordscontemplative media studies, Edward Snowden, Google, integrity, journalism, mindfulness

This essay examines the adaptation of meditation, yoga, and other “mindfulness” techniques by digital media companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook. This adaptation is ironic, considering that many critics and scholars suggest that the products and services offered by these companies undermine the achievement of mindfulness. In fact, some critics call for mindfulness training specifically to counter-act the cognitive impacts of smartphones, social media, and personalized search engines. I argue that we should understand this irony as an outgrowth of the process of externalization in market capitalism. In this case, Silicon Valley companies create “integrity bubbles” that allow employees and executives to reap the benefits of mindfulness, while externalizing the problems of distraction and fragmentation. The resolution of this tension would mean the reconfiguration of the digital economy as we know it, in the spirit of “digital humanism.” This goal requires a more holistic approach to the politics of mindfulness that examines both personal and civic mindfulness, the latter of which includes a contemplative approach to critical media studies and the revitalization of journalism as a public good.