Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tech Week: Experience

“Viewers of SNL span several generations from the Baby Boomers to Generation X all the way to whatever you call the little dummies who are live tweeting this right now instead of watching it.” –Tina Fey, SNL40 Weekend Update

For the record, I live tweeted a television event once. I thought I was doing it ironically at the time. After all it was the Eurovision Song Contest. Just watching that event is an act of irony. However, I discovered later that some people really enjoyed my commentary, and I had introduced them to the joy that is mocking Eurovision.

That said, there is a degree to which the wonderful “brave new world” of connectivity has ruined human experience. The imaginary audience that people have created—those adoring fans that want to see everything we do, eat, and want to hear what we have to say about everything—largely does not exist. Even our friends and family likely do not want the level of detail that we broadcast. Meanwhile, we have stopped merely living and instead are recording and broadcasting instead.

I recently heard of a case where a man spent the first half of a movie—an experience he had paid money to enjoy—checking and interacting with his facebook feed. That is a problem! I have previously mentioned my experience in Rome where I was bemused by the amount of people who were not looking at the sights at all, but instead were spending the entire time looking at their four inch screens.

Whenever humanity develops culture altering tools, it always takes a while for their use to be fully realized. More importantly, we tend to have to weed through all of the unintended downsides. What we have seen over the past decade or so, is that the tools we have developed to increase connectivity and enhance experience have instead created a barrier of sorts. We have fooled ourselves into thinking that experience through this poor filter is better than the real thing.

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