I’ve just realised it is dark outside. I’ve been typing a blog post for 20 mins. A timer has gone off on my phone to remind me to take a break. I stand up from my chair and my legs feel a bit funny. I blame the chair. It’s not very comfortable. I go to the kitchen and get some Ribena.
But earlier when I was sitting in front of my computer, I forgot I’d put a timer on. I didn’t notice that my legs felt funny. I didn’t notice that I’m thirsty. For the last 20 minutes I have given my entire attention to the screen; I outsourced my body to a convenient chair. This is why I have a timer.
My landlady next door is watching the TV with the dogs.
I forget my body at a screen.
I don’t need to sweat to move anything along.
I don’t want to be romantic about this. Books are the same. Once I’m in the zone.
Jean Baudrillard quotes Querzola in the chapter “The Ludic and the Cold Seduction” in his book ‘Seduction‘;
Electronic narcosis: it is the ultimate risk of digital stimulation… At the end of the self-management of our bodies and pleasures there would be a slow narcissistic narcosis. (Baudrillard 1979; 157)
I am reading (on my iPad, next to my computer) that this act of computing I am taking part in now is in fact a kind of game. I am at play. Re-ordering ‘my networks’ (Baudrillard 1979; 159) to discover a state of optimal functioning. I am narcissistically gripped by the playable world of my screen, because it gives me an endless cycle of gazing into the mirror of myself – which I have the constant opportunity to re-order.
The internet, then, is a pond into which I am gazing at myself and in turn rewarding me with my being-in-the-world as the constant editor of myself and the simulation of myself.
A computer screen is such a private thing. Two or more people come together gather around a screen they get confused, and their private behaviours are disrupted. What does a social computer look like?
The screen itself, like any object, is a device in the environment of our lives, a tool, a piece of furniture or a costume. But, when in use, we’re asked to not notice it. It’s form is a little bit dirty when it isn’t glowing with light.
Like a magician’s hands, the trickery is only noticeable when something slips. Or at the beginning and the end of the magic.
When will a screen become an old fashioned thing?
A screen is a small and safe source of light that indicates levels of security and regulates our wellbeing. It’s a private access to the confirmation of our territory as social beings in the world. Like meerkats, we are ready to pick up on the signals, propelled by a little dopamine rush. We are secure in our pack – the light says so.
The screen is the skin of the ungraspable elsewhere of data.