Our magic phones

- 200928

I don’t mind admitting my symbiotic relationship to my phone. Who else is like me? Go on, just raise your hand. 😂

As it stands, journalist and writer John Lanchester's article in the Sunday Times warns that it’s not just social media we need to be weary of, but the device we find so hard to put down for more than a few minutes. I had read the below somewhere else before and I feel that it sets the context rather well.

"The American biologist Edward O Wilson is the author of On Human Nature (1978) and Consilience (1998), and is known as the founder of sociobiology, the study of the biological aspects of social behaviour. When asked in 2009 about the strangeness of the current moment in our world, Wilson replied: “The real problem of humanity is the following: we have paleolithic emotions; medieval institutions; and godlike technology.”

And why is it so important to consider?

"People love their phones; you can see it in the way they handle them, the way they look at them, their reluctance to let them out of arm’s reach. We connect with the people we love over our phones, the people closest to us. We get good news, and bad news, and we flirt, and we text our friends, and we get work done, and we listen to music and podcasts and exchange stupid jokes; we do all those personal things, and some of this sense of connection and intimacy carries over to the devices themselves. Our phones become charged — “cathected”, a psychoanalyst would say — with all the feelings we experience while using them. All this makes it hard to block out our phones, to keep them at their right size; this piece of magic, engineered to be maximally distracting, is also deeply intimate and personal.

Lanchester goes (rightly) as far as suggesting that in the future, we may need to start teaching children in school how to spot fake news and manipulation techniques. How we will decided to deal with this advancements matter. Not the cheeriest article, but a good read.