Reading ” In a world of instant news, what cost the digital diet? in The Age newspaper 17Mar2012, made me think.
Does our new found need or desire to be in two places at once – the real and the virtual, detract from our experiences? The article mentions a journalist attending an event and viewing the occasion through the lens of his camera and through eyes raised only between tweets on his mobile device. The same scenario has started to occur at conferences that I have attended. I certainly have enjoyed being the recipient of twitter feeds from events that I have not attended – felt like I was there in a way. I have tweeted from events myself. I watch Twitter feeds of TV shows like QANDA and appreciate the breadth of thought and perspectives that they expose.
I believe that this pattern of reporting on happenings whilst still experiencing them can have both positive and negative side-effects. Your obvious ‘distractabilty’ or lack of attention must in a way reduce your ability to take in the event with all it’s ambience and features. However, the ability to see what others are feeling about the same event could help you focus or raise your awareness – gain another perspective and make the experience richer. The question remains, do we need information and reflection at such a rapid pace? Would it be better for people to wait to report after time for consideration? What is being gained, if anything, by this drive to be the first to report? Wendy Squires states,
Stories become stale in seconds and real time is barely quick enough. You practically have to be Nostradamus to keep up. I also understand Twitter is a ravenous beast that needs to be continuously fed, not so much a stream of information but an ever-escalating tsunami.
It appears that to slake the perpetual thirst for instant news, it has become as important to report what you are doing as to actually experience it. Living in the now is being replaced with ”I’ll watch it back later on TV”; the naked eye is now covered by a viewfinder; typing is the new talking.
The pressure is obviously on the media to present news at a rapid pace. What message are we giving the people presenting or performing for us when we are more focussed on technology in our hands that is connecting us to people not in the room? I suppose, as with many things in life, it comes down to moderation, levels of acceptable behaviour and good manners. Photographs are so important as recordings of events and invaluable in our maintenance of history – I spend many hours reviewing old photos and delight in my photo walls depicting family history. Someone took the time to record these experiences, but more modern technology seems to have created a more invasive presence in the ‘here and now’.
I remain a little undecided, although leaning towards the path of being happy to await my ‘reviews’ until people have had the opportunity to take it in and reflect and then share. People in our presence deserve our attention. Face to face interactions are still more important than virtual ones. Once again, I guess it comes down to balance.