Being human in a digital age

Tonight I went to see Tom Chatfield being interviewed at the Oxford Internet Institute.

If you haven’t heard of Tom, author / tech / philosopher then I’d recommend you start by watching this great video he produced for The Guardian earlier this month.

The video entitled ‘Your phone is seducing you, and you’re paying the price’ refers to the freedom and constraint technology has on our lives, tonight’s talk ‘Being human in the digital age’ starts to unravel some of these thoughts in a bit more detail.

I work at a digital agency, I love social media — particularly Instagram and Twitter and yet it’s been 4 years ago since I deleted my Facebook account because I became very aware that the effect and control it had on me was more negative than positive.

Tom spoke about how we’re all building our own “miniature worlds” and we’re in many ways inadvertently gamifying our own lives.

He quotes Daniel Kahneman

“When faced with a difficult question, we often answer an easier one instead, usually without noticing the substitution.”

He suggests technology also helps us avoid difficult questions and answer with an easier one, he gives a couple of examples:

“Do you love me” is substituted by ‘Liking’ a picture on Instagram or a post on Twitter

“How many friends do I have” is substituted by ‘How many followers do I have’.

There is no doubt a casino dynamic to social media and as Tom puts it many of our interactions with technology grossly underappreciates our human attention and intellect.

Technology is very good at answering closed questions, but it can’t answer these big open question and, therefore, he urges us to spend more time with your own open questions.

We should recognise the inherent differences that separate humans from “machines”, machines are inexhaustible, humans aren’t. Spending excessive amounts of our time online is only going to leave us exhausted, irritable, anxious.

Many of us are so busy translating our world into the screen world that we maybe in danger of forgetting to actually live it.

You can buy Tom’s latest book ‘Live this book’ here.

Delivery Director at @DeesonAgency

Delivery Director at @DeesonAgency