On presence and status

This post invites us to remember the time a few years back when, if you saw someone with a Blackberry, it was reasonable to assume they were a moderately-powerful businessperson?

When people walked into a boardroom for a meeting, everyone would ritualistically un-holster their BlackBerry, with the unmistakable plastic clicking sound...and put their phone on the table in front of them to show off their status.

These would, of course, occasionally vibrate or light up and need to be attended to immediately. The more times this happened, the more important you were.

It was the technological equivalent of pulling your dick out and slapping it on the table.

Nowadays, everybody who wants one can have a pretty powerful smartphone. And behaviour that was previously seen mainly in boardrooms is now seen everywhere.

I’ll have dinner with a friend and they slap their iPhone on the table from the moment we meet, keeping it there for the duration of the meal. They are constantly distracted by the phone lighting up, beeping and buzzing to let them know someone validated their existence by liking their latest Instagram photo.

This idea of constantly checking social networks (essentially 'private public spaces' funded by advertising) in order to validate our existence rings true with me.

We are desperately trying to relate on a human level, but our devices steal us away from each other, time and time again.

The author concludes by calling this an 'illness' and describing his attempts to 're-calibrate his priorities' by turning off most notifications.

While I spend most of my days in front of my laptop, this is sage advice. I fondly remember the days when you could go off for a wander and you were, for all intents and purposes, uncontactable. Being alone with your thoughts is what makes you, you after all.

In related news: #BelshawBlackOps13


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