Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The era of digital distraction

Where are we?  Who are we with?  And what are we doing?  What's that over there?  Who knows?  Who cares?

Gray Brechin sent me the outrageous photo above with the message: "Need I say more?"

On a day when the world yet again celebrates the victory of commodity fetishism -- the release of the iPhone 5S -- it's worth taking a moment to ponder the powerful hold of digital narcissism within our culture.  Recently, I've banned all laptops, tablets, smart phones, other electronic devices in my classroom, except for showing films and videos relevant to the topic at hand.  "We're going to look each other in the eye, talk about the readings and listen carefully to what others have to say.  If you have a problem with that, I invite you to take another class."  While there was initially some resistance to this rule -- "What?  You're depriving us of our Internet and social networking!" -- I find that more and more students get the point and even enjoy visiting a space where the digital umbilical cord has been unplugged.