Abstraction affords us a way of relating our particular contexts, experiences, and identities to something that transcends them. As the virtual realm becomes increasingly determinative of our identities, it also offers a way of relating to our concrete contexts, regarding them ideologically, in terms of more abstract ideas and categories.
The ability to abstract from the particularity of experience is by no means a bad thing per se. Through abstraction, at the temporary expense of some resolution, we can often more easily discern patterns and connections between things. However, where the resolution that enables us to perceive particularity is not just temporarily sacrificed, but is more permanently lost, abstraction can become a much more vicious process. Rich realities are reduced to threadbare and colourless ideas, or mere instantiations of generic entities. People are reduced to homogeneous groups and types.
And, beyond the de-particularization encouraged by media where we must represent ourselves in terms of generic categories and templates, there is an intensified social pull towards abstraction. Abstraction offers the potential for connection, to render your reality and experience in terms that highlight commonality. Whereas in our local contexts commonality and connection are often found precisely in particularity, in the non-local context of the Internet, these things more frequently present themselves to be sought through abstraction.
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