Positing online users as 'sleepwalkers', Tony Sampson offers an original and compelling approach for understanding how social media platforms produce subjectivities. Drawing on a wide range of theorists, including A.N. Whitehead and Gabriel Tarde, he provides tools to track his sleepwalker through the 'dark refrain of social media': a refrain that spreads through viral platform architectures with a staccato-like repetition of shock events, rumours, conspiracy, misinformation, big lies, search engine weaponization, data voids, populist strongmen, immune system failures, and far-right hate speech. Sampson's sleepwalker is not a pre-programmed smartphone junkie, but a conceptual personae intended to dodge capture by data doubles and lookalikes. Sleepwalkers are neither asleep nor wide awake; they are a liminal experimentation in collective mimicry and self-other relationality. Their purpose is to stir up a new kind of community that emerges from the potentialities of revolutionary contagion. At a time in which social media is influencing more people than ever, A Sleepwalker's Guide to Social Media is an important reference for students and scholars of media theory, digital media and social media.
A Sleepwalker's Guide to Social Media is a book for the age of sleep disorders and political disorders; it is a book about the reshuffling of affects and the data-driven cognition. Sampson maps brilliantly the production of the dark refrains of contemporary culture from UX design to the broader context of experience capitalism and social media. A dark book, a joyous read. Jussi Parikka, University of Southampton (UK) and FAMU (Prague) This is an essential book of dystopian media theory and an admonition of the high stakes of connectivity now and in the future. Tero Karppi, University of Toronto A Sleepwalker's Guide to Social Media is exactly what we need in these post-truth times. Tony Sampson brilliantly and succinctly takes us beyond the impasse between hyperreality and the illusory certainties of objective truth, introducing us to the collective nonconscious and its political, social and cultural implications. Read it now! Patricia Clough, CUNY