Everywhere you go people are staring at screens. I’m just as bad. In line at Starbucks- escape to the tiny screen! Taking a walk- let's check Facebook! Pulling up to a stoplight- save me from boredom oh tiny screen! We are getting further and further away from full sensory experiences and being pulled deeper and deeper into increasingly thin experiences via screens.
Why do I think screen experiences are thin? They barely engage our senses. We use our hands and eyes and maybe our ears but the medium itself (the screen) is hardly remarkable. This is a bigger problem than you might think.
Memories feed off of physical and emotional markers. Simply put, we don’t remember many digital experiences very well. Study after study has shown this. You are more likely to remember content from a paperback than a Kindle. The physical anchor of that paperback creates stronger memories. Same with emotion. Memories that have stronger emotions connected to them are more likely to stick.
This is why digital communication sucks- conference calls, email, etc. They all strip out emotion- the undertones in our voices, the body language, the physicality of a letter- all gone with most of these communications. People just don’t remember stuff when their senses aren't fully engaged. They aren't fully present- not even to mention they are probably multi-tasking.
I long for a day when we no longer have to stare at screens all day to do meaningful work. A musician buddy of mine, Vess Ruhtenberg, said to me recently- “I don’t think I would have started recording if I’d gone to a studio and everyone was starting at screens. What appealed to me was how studios looked like the deck of the Starship Enterprise”. I totally get that. There are many beautiful, wonderful things that technology has brought up but the screen is proving to be one of my least favorite. I’m hoping that the lords of tech will help us get beyond the screen and bring rich, human interaction back to technology as it existed pre-screens.
Yes, I totally get the irony that this post was written and read entirely on a screen. I wanted to send you all a hand written letter but... and yes, I also know you will probably not remember any of this. Damn screens!
Some research and references for this rant: