The Internet offers us enormous freedom. However, to enjoy this freedom, we must be willing to accept the technical standards and social forms which constitute this world. And as an increasing number of functional areas of society migrate to the web, what was once an opportunity of access has become an obligation to always be connected. The networked user lives in a state of digital wakefulness every day, around the clock, to the point of exhaustion. The question is whether such a lifestyle poses a threat to our freedom. But even radical critics of economic, political and social circumstances in the network society regard digital wakefulness as an indisputable given.
Consequently, the Critique of Wakefulness directs the intellectual energy of the opposition to exactly these unchallenged preconditions. On one hand,
the discussion takes issue with the emancipatory promise of so-called “watchful eye” projects, as well as counter-surveillance conducted by civic “watch groups”. On the other hand, there is a need to examine whether promising open-government initiatives actually reproduce the same pattern of surveillance as the participation in social networks. Does the permanently active, all-round participative network-observer structurally reveal just as much as the permanently active, all-round participative post-privacy user who voluntarily divulges his/her personal details? Isn’t it time to shift the focus to strengthening the right to not being watched and the right to forget? Are these rights reconcilable with digital wakefulness? If so, how could they be anchored through legal means? And more importantly, how could we achieve societal consensus on this matter?