A few days ago, after reading this article by Hans Ulrich Obrist, it struck me that I needed some time out to do something new, immerse myself in it and just be. A mini tech-detox, if you may.
Technology is an incredible thing. As time goes by, the rate at which we advance keeps increasing. And what is the biggest technological achievement by man, you ask? Well, the internet of course. In modern societies, we've almost become completely dependent on it. I wouldn't be writing this, nor would you be reading this without the intervention of the internet. Privileged children today are no longer being born with a silver spoon, but rather a silver iPad. Or something like that. The internet has changed us forever, for both the better and the worse. I'll be the first to admit that I love the internet and my life today would be shaped very differently without it. However, in recent years, studies are suggesting that it's altering our biological makeup. As a new generation of people who were born into the omnipresence of the internet are starting to enter adulthood, its impact on the human psyche is becoming apparent.
For one, it's becoming harder and harder to hold our attentions. If you pick a movie, be it from Hollywood or Bollywood, from about 50 years ago and compare it to a movie from the last 5 years, you'll find that the average length of a single shot has dropped from 9 seconds to 3 seconds. It doesn't sound like a huge difference, but it's clear evidence that we're losing our patience. The internet has allowed us to become efficient in so many ways that we're so used to getting as many things done in as little time possible. Case in point - I eat my meals while catching up on TV shows, edit photos on the tube, update social media while walking to class, plan what to wear in my head as I shower and reply e-mails on the toilet. In satisfying this strange urge to multitask whenever I can, I realised that I barely ever get the chance to really experience the present. Perhaps that's why as we get older, we feel like time passes too quick. I mean, it's already mid-February. Last I checked, it was April 2015 and I was enjoying the magic of London's spring. And before you know it, we're going to be celebrating 2017.
Another problem that the internet is causing is the fact that it's narrowing our access to realms of knowledge. It sounds counterintuitive, but it's true. Do you remember the lumpy, blue sweater scene from The Devil Wears Prada? It's similar to that. When you're online, from Google to Facebook, as random or thoughtless as your surfing habits may be, everything on your screen has been chosen specifically for you. Creepy, isn't it? Take a look at what Eli Pariser has to say, for a clearer explanation if you didn't get my odd analogy.
At its advent, the internet was a beacon of freedom. It held the promise of breaking barriers and transcending borders, to connect individuals to one another and make information accessible to all. Yet we've ended up trapped in filter bubbles, underexposed to all the possibilities awaiting us. This is definitely not good for individuals or societies. And especially not for someone involved in the creative industry. Creativity is said to flourish when ideas and cultures from different people are allowed to intersect - this is why more often than not you'll find that artists, musicians, actors, designers, entrepreneurs and so on tend to be based in a close-proximity cluster. It could be a neighbourhood (like Shoreditch), a geographical region (like the Silicon Valley) or even an entire city (like Mumbai). As our dependence on the internet snowballs, rather than integrating us with new knowledge, it's isolating us. If we're repeatedly being fed with recycled types of information, how are we expected to grow as individuals? It can only be done with proactive action.
And for these reasons I decided to spend a day in Hyde Park, away from the internet, collecting branches and visiting the Italian Gardens, Serpentine Galleries and The Magazine Restaurant. While it probably is beneficial to be efficient and streamlined in some aspects of our lives, we shouldn't forget to be mindful of the present moment, whether it's by meditating, enjoying a bath or simply focusing on the meal we're eating. And neither should we lose our thirst for experiencing new things outside of our comfort zones. So go pick up a few books you never thought of reading, or visit a place in your city you've never been to, and see how it refreshes you. I can tell you it's certainly more satisfying than hitting the refresh button on your browser.
Photos of me by Claudia Naomi