Reclaiming Melancholy by Emotion Tracking? Datafication of Emotions in Health Care and at the Workplace
Open Cultural Studies
Since the time between the world wars, the language of emotions has been dominated by the discourse of therapy, starting a style of emotional expression and practice. Somewhat paradoxically, at the same time as a new professional group emerged with authority to pronounce on all matters emotional as part of the unfolding of modern emotional capitalism, the categories of psychic suffering have witnessed a veritable emptying out of emotions. Currently, the emphasis is placed, rather, on various
... ther, on various kinds of lack of behaviour. For instance, "melancholy" as an existential category for strong and energy-intense reactions to all kinds of loss, has been squeezed into the clinical category of "depression," literally meaning "pressing down." Negative emotional states have, however, recently appeared in many self-tracking activities, including in the "datafication" of emotions in the form of the Finnish application Emotion Tracker. In this article, I ask whether this introduction of self-tracking into the context of health care and the workplace has written any differences into the current practices of emotional capitalism. My findings suggest that by placing itself in the opaque middle ground between professional psychology and ordinary life, Emotion Tracker creates a new space where the rich tapestry of melancholy is again allowed to figure.