Zombies and Smart Phones

My next book is going to be about critical theory, the internet and smart phones but I intend to also make it about Zombies.


I’ve always been fascinated by Zombie narratives and I’ve made it a bit of a tradition to immerse myself in Zombie films as I grade papers every semester. I enjoy the tropes of Zombie narratives; such as:

  1. The evil corporation or insidious corruption that leads to the development of the Zombie plague
  2. The new materialism of the post apocalypse
  3. The failure to resolve what happens next

As I wrote in a recent article (currently under review) the Zombie narrative is inherently political and gives us a chance to experiment with other ways of living.

So, when I say that I’m writing about zombies and smart phones, I don’t mean this:

Or at least, not only that.

I read once in a National Geographic article that a number of parasites in nature turn their hosts into zombies in order to achieve reproduction. For instance an intestinal parasite that can only reproduce inside a cat’s gut latches onto a mouse or rat and then shuts down the parts of their brain that respond to danger cues (such as the smell of a cat). This makes the mouse so much more likely to be eaten and thus the parasite uses the stupified host for its own purposes.

It’s that sort of relationship I’d like to investigate in terms of smartphones, targeted media, the filter bubble. I have a couple of starting questions to think through:

  1. If smart phones are encouraging us to act in the interest of something other than ourselves, what is that thing? (is it capitalism? consumption? or is it community and social circles?)
  2. What would be the distinguishing features of zombie media use? Alternatively is there a prescritpion for a particularly ‘human’ use of a cell phone?

If you have ideas about the answers to these questions, please let me know.

If you also enjoy Zombie media, I’d recommend ‘Zombies ate my podcast‘ for a very likable podcast focused on discussions of ‘The Walking Dead’ but including coverage of all other zombie media.