From Proud Feudal Lord To Cringing Courtier

There was a time when I ruled my virtual kingdom (blog) like a feudal lord. I didn’t have to concern myself with integrating into the wider world. I grew my own virtual vegetables. I had my own virtual solar panels. I crafted my own virtual clothes. I was the king of my kingdom. I had the right of the first night. I loved. I hated. I laughed. I cried. I ate beans and I broke wind. I courted porn stars and I studied Talmud. I was self-sufficient. I was my own man. I cut down trees. I ate my lunch. I went to the lavatory. On Wednesdays I went shopping and had buttered scones for tea.

Then, starting in 2007, social media began taking over. I spent more time on Facebook, Youtube and eventually Twitter and as I adapted to the terms of service (TOS) of these big corporations, I was changed. With time, I internalized their TOS and it increasingly regulated me. My story was modified by their story. My hero-system integrated their hero-system. They impurified my essential bodily fluids.

To make personal the lofty analysis of philosopher Rony Guldmann, I was progressively emasculated. I was stripped of my glorious self-sufficiency. To retain any vestige of my former power and prestige now required, not blogging prowess, but cultivating the right relationships. I was transformed from a warrior to a courtier. I was no longer foot loose and fancy free. I became subject to the continuous division and regulation imposed by dependence on others. Now my value did not lie with my own efforts, but in the favor I found in the almighty algorithms. I was no longer a free man, the master of my own virtual castle. I now live at court and I serve the prince. I’m surrounded by others. I must behave toward each of them in exact accordance with their rank and my own. I must learn to adjust my gestures exactly to the different situations. Life is now a stock exchange in which my value is continuously assessed. Gone are the days in which joking could lead to mockery and from there to violent disagreement and violence itself in the span of a few minutes. Gone too are the days in which I could leap from the most exuberant pleasure to the deepest despondency on the basis of slight impressions. For what matters now are others’ impressions rather than my own, and the foremost task becomes impression-management.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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