Sand Castles

Just as the tide (World Wide Web and internet) ebbs and flows depositing evermore information, we collect and use it more and more voraciously.   Like grains of sand falling through our fingertips, we struggle to hold onto a sense of self as society becomes more online than an offline organism.

Today data is collected and accumulates in our lives ever more diversely, the impact and influence upon us as social beings, our freedom of thoughts and choices are merging more closely with online life.  The term ‘information overload’ is frequently used but are we overloaded as individuals because there is too much information or that we seek too much information? Bawden and Robinson, discuss ‘quality over quantity’ and that ‘too much information may actually reflect too much to do: too much activity or too many diverse duties’ (2008) apply.

We live in a constantly upgrading ‘…complex and rich information environment… a homogenisation of information’ with the ‘look and feel of print being largely lost’ (2008).  This has allowed freedoms to expand previous limitations. In an age rife with digitalisation, our predominant access to information is via a screen interface be it a phone, tablet or computer.

In his book The 4th Revolution, How the Infosphere is Reshaping Human Reality,  Floridi discusses the ‘transition from history to hyperhistory for the living generation; whereby advanced societies become more heavily dependent on ICTs for normal functioning and growth (2014).  He uses the term ’onlife’ as part of his theories on the ‘blurring of the distinction between reality and virtuality; the blurring of the distinction between human, machine and nature’ (Floridi 2012), apply to today’s technologically advanced societies more and more. This is a topic that is not only interesting but also worrisome.

Take Japan as an example; well known for its love of technology and gaming,  its population is shrinking due to its low birth rate.  Economic stagnation, work-life balance, shifting social and cultural attitudes, habits and values are having an effect.  However, within this, there are new sub-cultures such as a ‘new breed of Japanese men, the Okatu, who love manga, anime and computers – and sometimes show little interest in sex’ (Rani, 2014).  These men have relationships with their online animated characters going as far as to take them to restaurants and parks. Unusual or normal? Surely this is no longer blurring the lines? Furthermore, Ryle (2013) states that the Japanese Ministry of Education is so worried about children’s internet habits that it has introduced internet fasting camps concerned that over 518,000 children were addicted to screen life.  These are just two examples of how internet addiction is changing the status quo.

A recent USA study called Technoference carried out by McDaniel and Radesky, found that the constant parental checking of smartphones may have a detrimental effect on their children’s behaviour.  Does this really surprise anyone?   Findings showed that this is more so the mother-child relationship than the father-child one.  It would appear that parents admitted that their phone/device checking habits interrupted social interaction with their offspring because they just couldn’t get over the compulsion to check them. Here McDaniel and Radesky cite the term  ‘absent presence’ as coined by Gergen in his ‘The Challenge of Absent Presence’(2002) to describe how parents tune out to their children.  Although, the report does point out that it was done on a predominantly white, well-educated sample of families and therefore doesn’t represent a true cross-section of the population (PubMedHealth 2017).  

This is a wide and complex area of study and people far more informed than I are grappling with some fundamental questions surrounding our interface with technology.

Finally, each day I commute to work with Borg-like citizens interfacing with the hive in some form.  I watch from the peripheries and worry that I may via my research, Blog and Twitter commitments also become assimilated. For now, it’s time to find some balance, switch off and build sandcastles or just have a drink with a friend.

Can you face unplugging from the hive for a day and leave that phone switched off?

Attached is a link to a Smartphone Compulsion Test by Dr Grenfield, a university psychiatry professor and founder of the Centre for Internet and Technology Addiction. How addicted are you to your device?

The irony here is of course that I have used technology to research the information, the test is IT-based and that an algorithm is revealing how addicted you are to your device!

 

References

Bawden, D and Robinson, L (2012) Introduction to Information Science: London. Facet Publishing.

Floridi, L. (2014) The 4th Revolution. How Infosphere is Reshaping Human Reality: Oxford. Oxford University Press.

Floridi, L. (2015) Commentary on the Onlife Manifesto DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-04093-6_4, (online) available at:https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2F978-3-319-04093-6_4.pdf

PubMedHealth. (2017) Parent’s phone addiction may lead to child behavioural problems. (online) available at:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2017-05-31-parents-phone-addiction-may-lead-to-child-behavioural-problems/

Rani, A. (2014) The Japanese men who prefer virtual girlfriends to sex. BBC Magazine online at:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-28677674

Ryall, J. (2013) Japan to introduce internet ‘fasting camps’ for addicted kids. The Telegraph. (online) available at:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/10267303/Japan-to-introduce-internet-fasting-camps-for-addicted-kids.html

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Sand Castles

    1. Hi Hanna, thank you so very much for your kind comment I sometimes feel that I get lost down a rabbit hole. Your style is something I aspire to clear, full of information and grounded in your love of reading.
      The first one is over with at least.
      Hope you have an enjoyable week.
      Petra x

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      1. Hi Petra, I really like yours and a few others’ style, elegant like ballet dancers. My favorite author is Haruki Murakami – surreal and full of figurative auras. An escapism for me. I am so not a natural writer. It takes me a lot of effort to write something. Every blog is like climbing up the Everest. I see the blog as a platform for me to learn. Have to admit that factual reporting style is not the true me…..

        See u next week! X

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Hanna, I know what you mean about climbing Everest, sometimes I put mountains in my way and make life harder on myself. We both need to trust in our abilities and that mountain will become a molehill. I spent so long instilling confidence in pupils, now it is time to enjoy this journey and take my own advice. Being brave is hard but it is never as bad as you think it is going to be. Thank you again for your kind words and taking the time out from a busy day to write them.

    See you next week. X P

    Like

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