Do you ever try to conduct word searches while reading a print book? What an odd sensation. Just for a moment, you mentally reach for a control that isn’t there. Then you realize this is a paper book, and if you want to find that word or passage you have to use the index, if there is one, or else estimate where in all those pages it’s most likely to appear, and then skim the actual material book manually. What drudgery, eh?
Our digital devices are unhinging us in ever-more profound and widely distributed ways, Pokémon being the current paradigm case in point. But the digital world’s invasion of our material realities can be subtler than Pokémon, even more insidious.
Pokemon Go has come to Thailand. Already we’re seeing related traffic casualties, while gangs of thugs establish (or maybe just haunt) Lure Module areas, where they await prospective victims, monsters turning the tables on Pokemon hunters. Authorities are even now trying to find ways to contain these various developments.
Culturally and perceptually augmented realities. Given the nature of human perception and cognition, we necessarily inhabit ‘virtual’ worlds, in fact, and we negotiate augmented realities as a matter of course. Our own minds, individual and collective, interpretively project all manner of stuff on a world ‘out there.’ But the digital world, arguably, is invading our minds in new ways, and our minds reinterpret so-called material reality in light of this.
Sources of dopamine. We’ve already mentioned the ‘magically search a paper book’ syndrome. But maybe you’re in a cinema and you have this sense of, whoa, what did Scarlett Johansson just do? And your mind reels with the effort of finding a rewind button that isn’t there, because you’re sitting in a cinema, for God’s sake. Or you have to go to the loo, and you mentally grope for a pause button. (Okay, only for a millisecond, you do this. Nevertheless.)
Typically a kind of situational dissonance takes hold as you seek the controls that would allow you to manipulate the consensually real, ‘material’ world as though it were digital.
Here’s a weirder example from my own experience. We have otherwise sane people checking their Facebook message flags every minute or so throughout the day, crazed, compulsive, resembling nothing so much as white rats with electrodes planted in their pleasure centers. You’ve read about this. They pump away for those wee electric shocks to the point they forget about sleeping, eating or sex till they drop dead at the lever. Friggin’ rats, eh?
Digital addictions invading material realities. Right. Here’s clear evidence that we humans, some of us at least (okay, me, and me with what might have been a hangover to boot), aren’t all that different. Up on the roof the other day, I suddenly scored a couple of hits of dopamine off something glimpsed on the periphery of my vision. My first thought: what were Facebook flags doing out there in the Bangkok cityscape? Then I realized that it was just some of those bright red TRUE satellite dishes that encrust the city like hi-tech fungus.
“Is that so?” asks Sara.
Note. Meanwhile, our memories are being outsourced to machines and the Internet.
I’d be interested if visitors to this site can add related experiences to those mentioned above.
Satellite dishes image from http://briancuda.com/ugly-dish.