Blog Writing — Affect and Media Essay Example

  • Category:
  • Document type:
  • Level:
    High School
  • Page:
  • Words:

Affect & Media: Viral Media

An affect is a non-conscious forceful experience; a moment of indistinct and unstructured potential. Through affect, the body prepares itself for an action in a given situation through addition of quantitative aspect intensity to the quality of an experience. Without affect, feelings cannot be felt since they do not have intensity and devoid of feeling it is difficult to make coherent decisions. In a nutshell, affect has a vital role in shaping the relationship between our bodies, the environments and other people, as well as the individual experience that we as human beings feel/think as affect dissolves into experience (Massumi & Zournazi, 2002).

For media, this implies describing “media affects” in terms of the communication of philosophy at times results in the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Therefore, in media affect is transmitted between bodies and hence the communication of affect implies that human beings are not self-contained in regard to our energies. There is no secure difference between the ‘person’ and the ‘environment’. Since affect is neither formed nor structured unlike feelings and emotions, it is possible to transmit affect between bodies (Gibbs, 2002). The significance of affect is based on the fact that in several instances the message consciously received may be of less importance to the recipient of the message as compared to his/her non-conscious affective importance with the source of the message (Massumi & Zournazi, 2002).

Affect in media revolves around issues of production and transmission. This is about how affect is produced and transmitted. Affect can be described as an embodied force that has an influence on the mind. As Aristotle argues, affect is what results to an individual’s condition to become so changed that his/her opinion and judgment are affected, and which is accompanied by pain and delight (Aristotle, 2003). This affect is a force personified through pleasure and pain and changes on individual’s condition as well as the perception. Descartes defines affect as opinions, feelings or emotions of the heart which human beings relate specifically to the heart and whose cause, maintenance and fortification is some movement of the spirit. The spirit implies the material medium that enables communication between the body and the mind. The explicit movements of this fluid establish the specific nature of the affect (Sampson, 2012).

Affect as a medium is media provides an interface between the domain of the information and the embodied human experience. Digital-facial-images have also been described as the transmission vessels for the production of the affect-medium. The digitally produced, frequently interactive images of human faces make the viewer/listener of the media to acknowledge the human being’s forceful yearning to engage affectively with the ‘virtual’ simultaneously as one confronts the perplexing prospect of its absolute indifference to human beings. This eerie combination results to production of an instant embodied affect that connects the human to the digital within a feedback loop. The connotation of affect as a force within the contemporary media landscape is seen in the density and unpredictability of affect production and transmission that presents constant risk of danger and manipulation, but probably it also presents the promise of moving from old merits and creating new connections (Sampson, 2012).

Virality seeks to determine what is distributed on a network and this explains how social-technical networks turn out to be viral which all boils down to the intensity of affect. The higher the intensity of the affect of the more viral the message being distributed through the media gets. This is the form of network virality that explores new utilizable social assemblage of affective communicable and contagious encounter. Virality also uses the conceptual tools and catches the viewers/readers/listener’s attention (Munster, 2013).

Virality occurs when affect passes around the social and the movement occurs at infra-personal speeds and dimensions. In this manner, affect passes an extremely sticky way, repeatedly and meticulously which builds an ‘outbreak’ that threatens to unglue the social, through virality. The intensity through which the affect of the “message” spreads can be termed as the affect making the message go viral. For instance, there are YouTube Videos that have big affect on viewers and they end up going viral because of the intensity and numerous uncountable times they are circulated in the internet (Munster, 2013). Therefore, virality affect move through the networked field and reinvigorates. The speed with which the affect spreads is the virality. It is the speed of viral spread that brings changes to social interactions resulting to openness, uptake, as well as sharing of the information with total strangers in the internet; this is the virality of the affect. Networked contagion has multiple speeds and is also extremely fast and the contagion within networks is what is referred to as going viral of affect (Munster, 2013).


Aristotle. (2003). From Rhetoric.” What Is an Emotion? Ed. Robert C. Solomon. Trans. Jon. D. Solomon. Oxford: University Press, 2003.

Gibbs, Anna (2002) ‘Disaffected’, Continuum, Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 16:3, 335-341.

Massumi, Brian & Zournazi, Mary (2002) ‘Navigating Moments: A Conversation with Brian Massumi’, in Mary Zournazi (ed.) Hope: New Philosophies for Change, Sydney: Pluto Press.

Sydney: Pluto Press.

Munster, Anna (2013) ‘Going Viral: Contagion as Networked Affect, Networked Refrain’ in An Aesthesia of Networks: Conjunctive Experience in Art and Technology, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.