Looking at Screens

My life is dominated by screens.  I look at my phone and laptop in bed.  I look at my phone and laptop and TV in my living room.  I go the office and look at my phone and laptop and another small-TV-sized monitor.  There is rarely a waking moment when I do not have immediate access to a screen, usually multiple screens.

At times, this is concerning.  Philosophers like Husserl and Deleuze have noted the constitutive power of processes of passive or affective synthesis.  The idea here is that a great deal of my identity as an organism (Deleuze), as a subject (Deleuze and Husserl), and as a person (Husserl) is constituted by affective relations to my environment.  In an image: my habits, expectations, motivated chains of thought, comforts, and so on are built up over time as I snowball about my world, accumulating ever more of it as it shapes and guides me.

The worry: fundamental change in form of life: now life is spent looking at things on screens instead of just things.

Of course, screens themselves count as "things"--I'm not making that rigorous of a metaphysical distinction--but they sure are very different than most things.  Screens open up new worlds.  The world presents us with things, but so do screens, even though screens are one of those things we are presented with in the world. 

Counter to the worry: why the nostalgia for things?  what do we actually do with screens? I spend an increasing amount of my screen time looking at or communicating with other people.

I'm not sure what screens are making me into, but I do know that I am always interested in higher resolution.  "Clear and distinct..." as Descartes says...

No comments:

Post a Comment