the phoneless gaze

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"Dear iPhone: it was only physical," writes Katie Reid. "I recently went through a pretty significant break-up," she says, "with my smartphone. My relationship with my phone was unhealthy in a lot of ways:"

I don't remember exactly when I started needing to hold it during dinner or having to check Twitter before I got out of bed in the morning, but at some point I'd decided I couldn't be without it. I'd started to notice just how often I was on my phone--and how unpleasant much of that time had become--when my daughter came along, and, just like that, time became infinitely more precious. So, I said goodbye. Now, as I reflect on the almost seven years my smartphone and I spent together, I'm starting to realize: What I had with my phone was largely physical.

Cognitive scientists have long debated whether objects in our environment can become part of us. Philosophers Andy Clark and David Chalmers argued in their 1998 paper "The Extended Mind" that when tools help us with cognitive tasks, they become part of us--augmenting and extending our minds. Today the idea that phones specifically are extensions of ourselves is receiving a lot of recent attention.

Reid writes that "the physiological effects of losing that equipment [her phone] were acute:"

...my heart began to race in the Verizon store when the employee told me he was deactivating my phone, and in the following hours and days, I would frequently find myself reaching for my iPhone, the way a girl reaches for a non-existent ponytail after a drastic haircut. Of course, I would gradually begin to notice not being able to use Google Maps or post to Instagram, but the physical sense of loss was instantaneous and intense. I literally felt a part of me was missing.

"Clark may see a smartphone extending my mind," she continues, "but I could feel it dulling my senses:"

Without my phone, I'm more fully myself, both in mind and body. And now, more than ever, I know that looking at my phone is nothing compared to looking at my daughter while the room sways as I rock her to sleep, or how shades of indigo and orange pour in through the window and cast a dusky glow over her room, or the way her warm, milky breath escapes in tiny exhalations from her lips, or how the crickets outside sing their breathless, spring lullaby. See, once I looked up from my phone, I remembered that each experience could be a symphony for the senses, just like it had been when I was a child and, thank God, there was no such thing as smartphones.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on May 12, 2018 8:13 PM.

incels and the "dark web" was the previous entry in this blog.

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