Go Fucking Do It

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Neoliberalism is not merely destructive of rules, institutions and rights. It is also productive of certain kinds of social relations, certain ways of living, certain subjectivities….at stake in neo-liberalism is nothing more, nor less, than the form of our existence—the way in which we are led to conduct ourselves, to relate to others and to ourselves.

—Dardot & Laval, The New Way of the World: On Neoliberal Society

"Your Lazy Life Ends Today!" proclaimed a recent promotional tweet by Go Fucking Do It, a new productivity app.

Users of the app sign up for free (of course) and determine a personal goal. They then set a deadline and decide on an amount of money they would like to risk losing if they fail to meet it. To finish, the user designates a third-party who serves as the arbiter of the goal. On the deadline, the app sends an email to the designated supervisor verifying their success, or otherwise.

In the words of Go Fucking Do It: "If they state you have reached your goal, nothing happens. If they state you haven't, we charge your card once" for the amount selected. The app's creator, known as levels.io, wanted to provide a platform to help people achieve personal goals, everything from "quitting smoking to running a marathon to asking out the girl they've been in love with but didn't dare to."

For my trial run of Go Fucking Do It, I selected a task that commonly plagues the freelance writer: meeting an imminent deadline (in fact for the first draft of this very review). I apportioned a few weeks, with my editor as supervisor. I couldn't help but view my use of the app as a kind of insidious comment on the exposure economy that reigns over bourgeois creative fields: I could have just as easily used the wager to motivate myself to design my first shoe line, send my portfolio to prospective galleries, finish my personal website, or any other uncompensated labors that some endure as a matter of course. Indeed, Go Fucking Do It is perfectly positioned to profit from me defaulting on my obligations to be a good neoliberal knowledge worker, where I am drawn in by the empowerment inherent in setting my own rate for the opportunity costs of not progressing towards my idealized self. 

Nowhere in the user experience does Go Fucking Do It explicitly note that the developer fully absorbs the penalty fee itself. Only when reached by email did levels.io confirm my suspicion. (Though apparently other users inquired about the notion of the proceeds going to charity: In press materials, levels.io explains that "the money doesn't go to charity"—not because this would completely strip the app of the revenue generating potential, but because "that would make people less inclined to actually reach their goals.") 

But perhaps the more remarkable aspect of Go Fucking Do It is that the digital technology at work is about as rudimentary as possible. The app consists of three basic elements: a front-end website/user interface, the establishment of a secure credit card connection, and an automatically scheduled email to the supervisor. The operative yes/no input comes from your designated human judge. Except for that most essential monetary transaction, all labor is carried out by the consumer. The app reflectively administers its subject's own anxiety, idling in the background with nothing to lose and everything to gain. In perfect techno-capitalist logic, Go Fucking Do It assumes no risk and performs no labor—it is the ideal "lean" startup.

The simpler the design of the user experience, the more complicated the ways in which it relies upon new norms of sociality. Today, it's widely observed that networked, private entities replace the social regulatory function of the state. Go Fucking Do It is simply the logical extension of this same development, encroaching further into the realm of the old modernist goal of engineering the good productive Liberal—creative, happy, socially engaged—albeit now at digital scale. 

In their diagnostic of the neoliberal subject, The New Way of the World: On Neoliberal Society, Dardot & Laval describe this as the general "mutation of the institution into the enterprise." In an accelerated economy that runs at digital speed, no corner of existence is outside the realm of private engineering. What kind of governmentality persists when we are impelled into pursuits of productivity and happiness wherein private entities stand to directly profit from our (self-)discipline? 

Perhaps in part due to this general collapse of community, institutions, and traditional norms of sociality under networked capitalism, we're increasingly enjoined into competition, engaging in data entry as a natural correlate of "living." Go Fucking Do It slips neatly into this very subjectivity, going a step beyond asking you to "share" your goals and accomplishments by monetizing a sort of shame and failure, literally operationalizing unbridled faith in market forces as a protocol for the self. 

Go Fucking Do It is not only the name of the app but also a mantra for a brogrammer ethos that disguises its own privilege in Emersonian auto-didacticism. It is here where everyone is an entrepreneur-in-waiting; free to move, self-directed, emancipated from state or institutional constraints, limited only by their own loathsome inability to self-manifest infinitely achievable personal goals. 

That levels.io taught himself to code is perhaps pertinent. One the first of many projects he embarked on was a machine to legislate his enlightened self-reliance on a demographic of "lazy" subjects, whose inefficient approaches to orderly accomplishment of life goals could just be cured by coercive adoption of market logic, if only they would sign up and give it a try.