Sunday, July 27, 2008

Digital Fidgeting

The July 21, 2008 issue of Newsweek had an article by a guy named N'Gai Croal (why he agreed to have a byline reading American Geek is beyond me) callled "The Peril of Digital Fidgeting." He describes it thus:

What I'm describing is not multi-tasking--the kind you do at your desk as you toggle between email, IM, and Web pages, driving down productivity--but rather a new form of mobile perpetual-tasking, where moments of spare time are steadily filled in by constant communication...even the work I did on my PDA was a way of filling the void with some form of electronic activity.

He noticed how bad his digital fidgeting had become when his PDA died. Thank goodness he took a moment to take stock between Twitter feeds before the launch of his new life as an iPhone owner.

I am not trying to sound holier than thou (though I'm fairly certain that's the tone of this piece), but PUUHHLEEEZZE...How about "filling the void" by talking with your co-workers, your neighbors, and friendly faces sitting nearby? I fear that the allure of our virtual communities is partly so we don't have to participate in the actual community. Part of consciously consuming is examining whether the time we spend (to consume means to use up, afterall) is in support of our values. I hope our society does not devolve from coming together for our common good to a roomful of people shoring up their on-line personalities at the cost of their real ones.

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