How can we escape?

Innis (2009) argues that “we must somehow escape on one hand from our obsession with the moment and on the other hand from our obsession with history” (p. 51). Why do you think he says that? And can we?


Innis, H.A Plea for Time” in Sourayan Mookerjea, Imre Szeman, Gail                         Faurschou. Canadian Cultural Studies: A Reader. Duke University Press. 2009


6 thoughts on “How can we escape?

  1. When Innis (2009) states that “we must somehow escape on one hand from our obsession with the moment and on the other hand from our obsession with history”(51), I believe he is speaking in terms of our communication media. Since all mediums have a bias – either a space bias, or a time bias – all have limitations as well as advantages for society. I would relate “our obsession with the moment” to our current popular media (i.e. the internet etc.) and point out that it has a distinct space-bias in that it is extremely portable and can disseminate information all over the world very rapidly. The disadvantage would be that it is not as concrete or durable as certain other forms of communication media. “Our obsession with history” seems to point to our attachment to older forms of communication (i.e. oral speech etc.) which require human contact and community to survive and have a distinct time-bias. These forms of media are strong and durable, they have longevity that others may lack, yet the disadvantage is the information they carry cannot be spread very far unless they are linked with another medium – one that has a space bias instead of a time bias.
    Overall, I think Innis is conveying the fact that all mediums are important. Each type will have its own limitations and advantages (space or time bias) and the only way to grow as a society is by using them interactively. Instead of clinging to a specific medium, we must open our eyes/minds to the usefulness of both space and time biased media; by doing so we will see how much stronger and informed our world becomes. We cannot remain so obsessed with history that we cling stubbornly to the old ways of communication (speaking face to face, carving words into stone etc.), or we will not survive very long. Additionally, we should not get so caught up in the moment and the newer, better, faster ways of communication that we completely forget our history. We will not flourish for long in this way either. What he is proposing is that we embrace new technologies and new mediums of communication for what they are, while not losing touch with the older forms of communication in the process. Ultimately, a balance must be struck between history and the present, and such a balance, is how we will achieve stability and longevity.
    This is merely my personal take on the Innis reading…


  2. Innis (2009) argues that “we must somehow escape on one hand from our obsession with the moment and on the other hand from our obsession with history” (p. 51). Why do you think he says that? And can we?

    In the sense of digital communication, Innis’s words “we must somehow escape on one hand from our obsession with the moment” could be easily related to modern day social media trends. For example, every month or so there is a new trend that is occurring all over social media – let’s take the water bottle flipping challenge for example. All last summer people of all ages and all digital media platforms put their time and energy into making the “coolest” videos of them flipping water bottles in hopes it would go viral and grant them overnight fame in the social media world. I remember being at work and one of my co-workers would spend more time videoing himself trying to flip water bottles onto certain things in the shop than actually spending time doing his job. This is where I think Innis’s words are relevant with modern society. We must step away from the current trends and obsessions of the world and realize they are, more often than not, consuming our lives and overruling our actual duties within society. Had my boss watched the footage of my co-worker spending an 8 hour shift flipping bottles instead of doing his job, he could have easily been fired. That just goes to show that people are consumed by social media and obsess over current trends and viral sensations.

    Can we overcome these obsessions? I think often times social media reminds me to take a step back and reevaluate the bigger picture of life. Realistically, we must be able to answer the question “what is more important? Having a job that provides you with financial support or participating in current trends to appear cool?” with a level head and if people can’t easily realize which is more important of the two, then that is concerning. In order to overcome these obsessions I think people need to take a step back every now and then and reflect on what is important in their lives and what takes precedent. I think social media is a great tool. It benefits people in many ways as I have said before, but the more consumed by social media someone becomes, the harder it is for them to overcome their obsession. It’s all about balance in my opinion. Once people can figure out how to balance digital communication and their everyday, real world life, then I think society has a chance to escape the growing obsessions with new media. At least, I hope.


  3. Innis (2009) “we must somehow escape on one hand from our obsession with the moment and on the other hand from our obsession with history” (p. 51). This is a very relevant quote in this day in age, with social media being so predominant in everyday life. People are obsessed with sharing every “moment” online only for people to look back on these photos and tweets that are now “history. ” It has become such a social norm to be constantly “capturing the moment” only so we can relive it at a later date. I am guilty of this myself, I am forever taking photos of the things im doing only to post them to show my friends and family. These photos are now “history” that we live though with internet “likes” and shares. I feel like this theory is only going to be proven to be more true as time progresses. Everyday technology is improving making it easier and quicker to create and post content online, only to gain online social points in return. This obsession with people is in no way subsiding either, serious negative effects of this have not been properly broadcasted giving people no real reason to stop this. There are some minor negative effects that through some research I have found, but all of which could be mitigated simply with moderation.

    Simply put, this obsession with living in the moment while also the obsession of history is, in my opinion, on the rise with no signs of stopping. If history is any indication technology is only going to grow making this phenomenon all the more relevant.


  4. I understand his view, and what he is saying, however I think he has painted society with a fairly broad stroke. I think the “obsession” he is referring to is not as extreme as his tone indicates. Im going to (try to) explain myself using snapchat. I have a select few friends who live their lives through snapchat. “If I didn’t snap it, it didn’t happen”. They want every movement they make to be documented, so that they can share it, and look back on it. I have never understood why anyone needs to take social media to that extreme. However, I do find myself looking through my instagram account from time to time, looking back on previous posts and remembering what the context of the picture was.
    I think finding the balance of looking back, enjoying the moment, and moving forward is becoming harder and harder to find in today’s world. Technology allows us to do all three of these things simultaneously. I think it is more important to be aware of the idea that there is that “obsession” present in our lives, rather than working on being free from it.
    Casey Neistat has a cool video that is very loosely related to the topic of stopping and moving forward in life. Although it doesn’t exactly go hand-in-hand with Innis’ quote, I thought of this video and think you should watch it regardless.


  5. When Innis says, we must somehow escape our obsession with the moment and with history it makes me think of a different class I had where we discussed our cultures current obsession with social media. We spend so much time looking at our phones for constant updates on friends, family and strangers lives that we stop looking at the world around us. I know a few people that spend a large amount of time just to get the perfect picture. They want the perfect picture to post on their social media and represent how amazing their life is. They are constantly documenting their lives and they get so caught up in creating the perfect picture that they stop enjoying the moment they are in. They will have a picture to remember the moment for the rest of their life but it took so long to get the actual picture that they were taken out of the reality of the moment just so you can document it. People are detaching themselves from reality while trying to document how real their life is.
    I think our culture is obsessed with space bias. Internet gives us access to any information we want within seconds. We can access it almost everywhere and the information comes from all over the world. It has completely changed they way we communicate, learn and think.


  6. Social media makes it so easy to share photos, videos, or text in real time. People have cell phones and tablets with cameras that are linked straight to all social media platforms and can share on all of them simultaneously. It has become automatic now to grab a mobile device and share a moment instantly with friends and family. But what does this do to everyday face to face interactions with friends and family? The more liberally information is shared with friends and family online the less that person will actually have to share when conversation counts the most. Instead of saying, “You’ll never guess what happened to me yesterday. Let me tell you about it.” It ends up sounding more like, “Did you see my Facebook update yesterday?… Yeah it was so funny.” end of story.
    To me when Innis (2009) talks about “[escaping]…our obsession with the moment… and with history” it means that we shouldn’t obsess over capturing every moment, instead we should just appreciate it and live in it. Storing memories of moments is so easy that they have become arbitrary and can lose their meaningfulness by being dumped into a digital wasteland with everything else we might eventually forget about. I think sometimes it’s even possible to miss out on the moment by worrying about capturing it. When I go to concerts or comedy shows there is a consistent twinkle throughout the audience from smartphones trying to capture videos of the show instead of just taking it in and enjoying the moment. The same thing goes for those “you had to be there” moments when the memory is reliant on the context of the situation. I have had to comb through social media posts and photos from time to time to weed out things I’ve said or photos I’ve posted that make me say “what was I thinking?” or “what is even going on here?” I didn’t trust my brain to retain the moments that we deem important and let go of those that are fleeting.
    We have become so used to saving and sharing every moment in our lives simply because we can that the value of moments and of memories decreases. That’s not to say that there isn’t value in trying to capture certain moments to save and reflect on but I don’t think it’s necessary to save and share every meal we eat, or what we’re wearing each day. Portable media has become such a big part of our society that I don’t think it is possible to escape the obsession. We have stopped using our brains to filter important information and decided that if we treat everything like important information then we’re sure not to miss anything. but the more we try to capture the moment the less it can be appreciated in that moment. Social media continues to evolve and come out with faster and more direct way of sharing, like Facebook’s “Live” feature where friends can tune in to a live broadcast of what someone is doing as it unfolds. This evolution is why I believe that we can not escape the obsession with moments and history.


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