Ubiquitous Devices

Americans spend an average of five and a half hours a day with digital media, more than half of that time on mobile devices, according to the research firm eMarketer. Among some groups, the numbers range much higher. In one recent survey, female students at Baylor University reported using their cell phones an average of ten hours a day. Three quarters of eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-olds say that they reach for their phones immediately upon waking up in the morning. Once out of bed, we check our phones 221 times a day—an average of every 4.3 minutes—according to a UK study. ...
Nearly half of eighteen-to-twenty-nine-year-olds said they used their phones to “avoid others around you.”
- Jacob Weisberg, We Are Hopelessly Hooked, NY Review of Books, Feb. 25, 2016 Issue

Violence, bitter partisanship, an uncertain future. These are dark times.

In fact, humanity just had its gloomiest year in more than a decade, according to a new survey of the emotional lives of more than 154,000 people around the world.

More people reported negative experiences, defined as worry, stress, physical pain, anger or sadness, than at any point since 2005, when Gallup, the analytics and consulting company, introduced the survey. ...
The increase in negative experiences around the world was driven largely by rising worry and stress, reports of each of which rose by two percentage points from 2016 to 2017.
- Niraj Chokshi, It’s Not Just You: 2017 Was Rough for Humanity, Study Finds, NYT, Sept. 12, 2018

What began as a vague apprehension — unease over the amount of time we spend on our devices, a sense that our children are growing up distracted — has, since the presidential election of 2016, transformed into something like outright panic. Pundits and politicians debate the perils of social media; technology is vilified as an instigator of our social ills, rather than a symptom. Something about our digital life seems to inspire extremes: all that early enthusiasm, the utopian fervor over the internet, now collapsed into fear and recriminations.
- Akash Kapur, Attempting the Impossible: A Thoughtful Meditation on Technology, NYT, Aug. 28, 2018

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