And who would we be?
We are a group of young individuals who cherish and admire the smartphone, in all its multifaceted glory. This little piece of magic enables us to text friends from across the globe; marvel at the images they capture of faraway and exotic locations; ask a friend for fashion advice before head out; and when we’re too tired to type in a quote, we simply take a photo. Our handhelds are with us at the bus station, letting us know when the bus is due, and whenever we encounter an unfamiliar term, out goes our smartphone with its in-built Google app.
Conversely, this wondrous tool, now transformed into a sort of bionic appendage, is not without its shortcomings. Every single social gathering nowadays features a group of people who spend the majority of their time engrossed in their little handhelds. It’s as though no one is actually present with the rest of us, and everyone’s attention is devoted to a world that’s far, far away. The first thing we do when we get up in the morning is turn off our smartphone’s alarm clock, at which point we switch to the social networks and file through the myriad of new notifications , when we could have simply enjoyed a little quiet morning time with ourselves. We begin our day fully-poised, immersed in the ever-tantalizing world of whatever it was that happened while we were “gone”. Let’s face it, though – The majority of these notifications are inconsequential and mundane, and most of them are actually quite dull.
This startling revelation is definitely not something we were the first to come up with. Academic literature on the subject abounds, including studies on the adverse effects of technological and smartphone abuse. Our social existence, our self-image, our mental faculties, such as our attention span and our ability to concentrate, among many others, are also affected by the smartphone.
As interesting as we may find such research, the Digital Diet will focus rather on our personal experience. We’re hardly a group of millennial luddites decrying the decadence brought about by new technology. Nevertheless, we must consider how this new reality we found ourselves in has occupied every niche of our lives with such rapid advance, and with upcoming technological developments such as Google Glass, bionic eyes and hands and other unworldly contraptions, we think it’s maybe time for a wake-up call. We would like to rethink and reexamine the methods we employ to communicate with and via the smartphone. Our common purpose should be to understand how we can deconstruct our relationship with the smartphone and its cornucopia of apps and widgets, with a view towards the human as well as the technical aspect of this technology. In this manner, we may find a way to utilize the smartphone for our own purposes – As opposed to those of app developers and of the mobile operators who distribute their products.
At this point, we can safely say that we are acting as our own test subjects, each of us with their own habits and particular insights. We hope that this campaign will provide a powerful tool for documentation and discussion for everyone concerned by the issue; and for anyone interested in reconciling the smartphone’s irrefutable advantages and the will to successfully hone its power.
[Text written by Soulcat, a Disco Therapist]
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