[vimeo 277078377 w=640 h=360]
You don’t have to think too far back to a time, when if someone suggested that we would reach a point in human history that staring at electronic screens as we sat together around the dinner table, would be commonplace.
Yes there’s undoubtedly pros on top of the cons, but should we be giving more attention to the time and place?
On the bus to work, I stopped looking at my phone and decided to listen to music instead. Taking in the world around me, rather than take in the world through the screen. What I found myself looking at felt like staring at a car crash. Everyone with their heads hunched forward, faces emotionless and filled with artificial light. Surely this can’t be right? it unsettled me.
We are not looking when we cross the road.
We are not looking at eachother when we talk to eachother.
We are not looking when we are driving.
We are getting anxiety disorders.
We have relationship problems.
We have a distorted view of the world.
And I’m guilty. I do this. My phone is the first and last thing I look at each day. I wanted to crystalise this by making this video. Maybe it would unsettle others and provoke discussion (or maybe people will be more unsettled at how easy and legal it is to film you in any public space without your consent…). We’re connected like never before, and have the unlimited sum of human knowledge and creation in our hand, surely this is progress?
You’ll argue that this isn’t that different from a time when people sat on the bus staring at newspapers. That if we didn’t have the phone in our hand, we still wouldn’t strike up small talk with stranger.
There’s still something being lost. When I become conscious of my own behaviour, I realise that that I’ve lost an awareness of my surroundings, my environment. I’m actually lucky enough to live somewhere that most of the time when I look out of the window, the sky looks great. I certainly don’t need to pine over a highly saturated photograph on r/earthporn, as compelling it may be to consume one staged image after the next in order to pass five minutes.
My wife and I are talking to each other less in the evenings. The light from our phones (be it blue or yellow), affects our mood and sleep patterns. Even my two year old knows that paying attention to this thing in my hand is less time I’m paying attention to him.
I can’t dispense of the phone completely and I think the course has been set for humankind already – we’re heading toward an era of not just wearable tech, but human augmentation and bionics. We’ll reach a time where these phones aren’t in our hands anymore (Black Mirror anyone?), but here’s a couple of things I’m going to try and do now:
1) Keep my phone out of the bedroom. I read books mainly on breaks, holidays and long trips, but I really want to change this. It’s a hard habit to establish.
2) Do my best not to let my son see with me with my phone at inappropriate times. Like at the dinner table, or even just whilst walking.
My video isn’t a wholly original idea, but this is what it looks like in my city. An aide memoir almost, of Brisbane in 2018.
Don’t worry, the irony isn’t lost on me. Here’s a load more content for you consume whilst you pass time on that bus journey you’re on right now.
CM | craigjlmacdonald.com