Dismedia: Technologies of the Extraordinary Self
For people with neurodevelopmental disabilities, such as ADHD, 2021 was an important year of visibility. Discussions about living with the condition exploded on the social media platform TikTok, producing a 'neuro-viral archive' of knowledge about these extraordinary forms of selfhood and struggle. Providing particular means for self-care it can thus, following Michel Foucault, be called a “technology of the self” in an era in which self-diagnoses are growing exponentially. Apart from accentuating the existential vulnerabilities of marginalized groups, the archive invokes key insights within critical disability studies about dismediation: namely how people with disabilities have been central to the history of how technologies have been designed and developed, bringing to the fore that media and disability are fundamentally co-constituted. The purpose of this project is to explore how media, disability and selves are conjoined, by asking questions about the potential dis/in/enabling aspects of self-discovery through the machine and about resonances between ADHD and the apps themselves. The project interrogates the archive through readings of texts and algorithms, and by combining ethnographic investigations with historical contextualization. It will generate important knowledge and contribute to a diversified, post-anthropocentric theorization of the extraordinary self in becoming - as well as an alternate understanding of our digital existence.