Hello everyone! Since school has started up again and I’ve finished my first week of the semester, I wanted to share something quite interesting with you all that we’ve been discussing in my Art Seminar class. During this class, we will be taking multiple trips to Los Angeles to visit some museums and galleries while learning the ins and outs of contemporary art. Not only that, our professor has had us dive into topics that not only affect the art world, but every single human being individually. The first idea we’ve been reading about is how smartphones are affect our lives. Are they assisting us in our everyday tasks like they were assigned to do? Or are they slowly taking over our society and setting limits to our intellectual capabilities? Keep reading to hear my take on things!
The Smartphone Experiment
To start off this conversation, my professor had us read a short article from October 6, 2017 by Nicholas Carr entitled “How Smartphones Hijack Our Minds.” I will link the PDF here (WSJ Smartphones) if any of you are interested in reading the entirety of the article. Basically an experiment was conducted with three separate groups. Each group was given an assignment, however the major differences between each group was where their phones were located. In Group 1, their phones were places right in front of them. For Group 2, phones were kept in backpacks or purses beside them. In Group 3, phones were left in a completely separate room while they worked on the assignment.
The results were in! Interestingly, Group 3 had the highest scores and Group 1 had the lowest scores. How crazy is that?? The phones simply sitting in front of Group 1 caused a distraction (even if they weren’t turned on) and made them not perform well. We aren’t even aware of the control that smartphones have over our minds. All day we are subconsciously waiting for something to pop up on that screen or to hear that PING or feel that vibration. We can all admit that we pull out our phones countless times everyday, and its definitely become a habit, almost involuntary.
I’ll Just Look It Up Later
Let me see a show of hands (or comments) for whoever has said this statement before. “I don’t need to know that now, I’ll just Google it when I really need to” or something along those lines. Smartphones and specifically search engines like Google have made it increasingly more easy to find an answer to any question we have. They were built to help us with problem solving and designed so that we need (and want) them everyday of our lives. How has that affected our minds though? The truth is since we don’t have a need to memorize or remember any of the information we search, our brains don’t truly take in any of that information. We subconsciously know all the answers are sitting in our phones or our laptops, so what’s the need to retain any of it? We let the phones remember for us. In one section of the article posted above Carr states, “As strange as it might seem, people’s knowledge and understanding may actually dwindle as gadgets grant them easier access to online data stores.” Unfortunately, there are effects to this lessening of understanding for our brains. Carr also mentions, “Only by encoding information in our biological memory can we weave the rich intellectual associations that form the essence of personal knowledge and give rise to critical and conceptual thinking.”
What You Can Do
Alright so I know I just threw a lot of information at you in some giant paragraphs. But stay with me here. You don’t have to fall into the hole that is the technological takeover. I won’t dismiss the fact that smartphones, tablets, and desktops are simply a part of our world now and are necessary for business, profit, and staying connected to those we love. There is absolutely no way a person could cut out technology and not struggle a bit. However, this article and this discussion has made me review my own relationship with my phone and computer lately.
I am totally one of those people that constantly has my phone on me and checking it way more than I should. I love social media, it honestly does intrigue me, especially the business aspects of it. But when it becomes a nuisance is when you are spending time with friends or right before bed. I personally have been making an effort to not look at my phone before I sleep; I’ve been trying instead to read a book or write in my journal. It’s small changes like this that will lead to a better sleep and an overall higher quality of life in my opinion. Slowly cutting out times where you truly don’t need your phone and replacing it with YOU time or giving yourself moments to check your mental health is extremely important.
As for computers, obviously I am completely attached to mine because of this blog. My blog is something I’m extremely passionate about and is my way to stay connected to you guys. Not to mention, my entire graphic design major is dependent on my Mac. I literally could not earn my degree without this keyboard and mousepad. So again, I will try to make an effort to stay off my computer (specifically YouTube) as much as possible, since I’m already using it so much for my designs. Alright, I think I’ll cut this post here. Let me know what you think of this topic, I personally find it so interesting! If we could start a conversation about this in the comments, that would be so awesome! Talk to you all soon!