Right Here, Right Now

99U tweeted a link to this rather interesting article earlier today, which reminded me of a blog post I started writing earlier this year, but didn’t finish.

Here is that unfinished and unedited post:

Do you remember people watching? You’d be sitting somewhere, waiting for someone or something, and have nothing better to do than to watch people; to watch the world go by. Fascinating wasn’t it? When was the last time you did this?

I bet now when you are in a queue, or sitting having a coffee, or a meal you reach for your smartphone. You tweet, you Facebook, you check your email or maybe you hurl grumpy avifauna at kleptomaniac swine.

But whatever you are doing, chances are you are looking down at a small, glowing rectangle, and not at the world around you.

Taking my break from Twitter over Christmas and now for lent has helped break the habit of reaching for my iPhone – for a habit it is.

I recently read this great post from Patrick Rhone, and it struck me that if he’d been head down looking at his phone he wouldn’t have seen this, thought this, and written what is a great blog post.

Over Christmas a Tumblr site appeared called We Never Look Up appeared. It showed a stream of images of people, in the street, at restaurants, at bus stops looking down at their mobile devices. It showed dramatically how focussed we’ve become on these small glowing rectangles, and on the ‘elsewheres’ they connect us to.

I feel that not only are you physically giving your attention to the device in front of you, but when you spend so much time focussed on the ‘elsewheres’ that these devices connect you to then part of your mental attention is always connected to those ‘elsewheres’.

You are never truly ‘there’ with the world around you, and maybe the person opposite you, you are thinking about your next tweet, or whether you should Instagram a picture of your beer or your lunch. This may not even be a conscious thought, but nagging feeling that takes away your attention and removes you from the here and the now.