Claudia Conway, Donald Trump, and the dangers of pure transparency.

I think Claudia Conway, the daughter of Kellyanne Conway who has become a recent TikTok star, is making a very strong case for being the symbol of the emotional, psychological, and spiritual devastation that excess social media is having upon the lives of American teenagers and their families of origin.

Unfortunately, much of the American media has uncritically praised her as “a whistleblower” and “a hero,” but in fact this young girl is doing something that resembles digitally pimping out not only her own mother, but her very soul for any click, like, or view she can generate for her rapidly increasing following. But the problem is, at some point her time in the digital limelight will recede, and she will be undoubtedly dealing with the horrific effects wrought by her self and family over-exposure for the rest of her life; and that is a certainty.

The Conway family, a truly disturbing family dynamic, a less glamorous political version of the Kardashians, is a great example that illustrates the many dangers of pure transparency upon human beings and intersubjectivity as such: family fights are shared openly on social media, emotional entanglements between mother and daughter are given over to the Twitter commenters to feast on, etc.

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But then of course, as we openly bear witness to this disturbing display of family transparency upon the digital network, the paradox of transparency is unintentionally revealed to us: what we get with this radical form of digital-neoliberal transparency is not the clear truth regarding the Conway family, but rather a thicker layer of confusion, lies, and deceit. What the raw transparency now demanded by the capitalist-computational horizon does not fully grasp is that truth cannot be transparent, it is never transparent in such an instrumental fashion — truth always comes to us within the casing of some kind of symbolic text or disclosure.

But the real paradox here is that Claudia Conway, in her endless critiques of Trump and her own mother, is basically doing her own version of “The Apprentice” — she, like so many other American teenagers captured by the interrelated logic of transparency and neoliberal ideology, is following the logic of a very dangerous life path, a path that was first cut into the American cultural landscape by Donald Trump and others over 20 years ago with the advent of Reality Television and the internet.

Written by

writer, fillmmaker, theorist, founder The Way of the 12 Plants. Author of 13 books and director of 3 films. www.brianculkin.com / www.12plants.org

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