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JB: Do you feel loyal to brands?

RUSHKOFF: It's funny — I went to the Foot Locker to get sneakers a month or so ago. There was a wall of sneakers — Nikes and Adidas and Reeboks ­ the major brands ­ and then cool brands like Airwalk and Simple — the so-called counterculture brands that you're supposed to believe aren't being assembled by underage Singhalese prostitutes. I looked at that wall and I actually did have a crisis — a consumer crisis — as I thought, what sneaker is me? Which one is the thing I call Doug? Which reflects me? How do I want to express the thing I call Doug with my purchase?

The way kids express who they are today, and the way we are supposed to vote in a libertarian universe, is with our dollars, right? But we can never really express who we are through consumption. It's a pity that it's the main option left to us. It's not empowerment at all. It's the power to be a consumer.

JB: Do you think self-conscious option is enough? John Cage would say that in order to change ourselves we need to forget interiority and change the world — and we'll all change with it. The inter life is over, everything is an objectification, including the names of the body, "the thing that I call Doug".

RUSHKOFF: At one time I used to believe something like that. My prescription for getting more conscious was for everyone to admit that we're all flailing around in the same dynamical system and everything is arbitrary. What I call Doug, what you call Doug, what we call a word — everything is arbitrary. It's that seemingly profound insight you have in your dorm room on a little too much acid, where you can't hold onto anything. So let it all go, and realize that the reality templates are up for grabs. It's a consensual hallucination, as William Gibson would say. But I don't think that's true anymore.

JB: I think we need a new word for this.

RUSHKOFF: Maybe post-ontological relativism? I haven't turned into an absolutist, either, though. I don't think there's something called evil, but I do think there's a force called good. Like heat — heat is a force. Cold is not a force, cold is just the absence of heat. It doesn't exist. Ask any physicist. But there is heat, and I think there is something called good. And that implies a certain polarity, for sure. Or at least a spectrum or scale.