Futurisms: Critiquing the project to reengineer humanity

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In texted time

Three items today relevant to recent posts. First, following up on our series of posts on lifelogging, CNN has a very cursory but still-worth-excerpting article called "Do digital diaries mess up your brain?":
But recording everything you do takes people out of the "here and now," psychologists say. Constant documenting may make people less thoughtful about and engaged in what they're doing because they are focused on the recording process, Schwartz said.

Moreover, if these documented memories are available to others, people may actually do things differently.

"If we have experiences with an eye toward the expectation that in the next five minutes, we're going to tweet them, we may choose difference experiences to have, ones that we can talk about rather than ones we have an interest in," he said.

Similarly, a 1993 study led by researchers at the University of Virginia found that undergraduate students who were asked to think about their reasons for choosing posters chose differently and reported less satisfaction than those who did not have to justify their choices.
The opportunity to contact many people at once seems to encourage compartmentalization, as people try to establish different kinds of romantic attachments with different people at the same time.

It seems to encourage an attitude of contingency. If you have several options perpetually before you, and if technology makes it easier to jump from one option to another, you will naturally adopt the mentality of a comparison shopper.

It also seems to encourage an atmosphere of general disenchantment. Across the centuries the moral systems from medieval chivalry to Bruce Springsteen love anthems have worked the same basic way. They take immediate selfish interests and enmesh them within transcendent, spiritual meanings. Love becomes a holy cause, an act of self-sacrifice and selfless commitment.

But texting and the utilitarian mind-set are naturally corrosive toward poetry and imagination. A coat of ironic detachment is required for anyone who hopes to withstand the brutal feedback of the marketplace. In today’s world, the choice of a Prius can be a more sanctified act that the choice of an erotic partner.
Finally, Mariah Carey aside, can you believe this is intended as an advertisement for Blackberrys?:


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