Dougald Hine has definitely got some facts right: our mobile devices are bringing us more words than any of us could ever read, more music than we could ever listen to, more video than we could ever watch…
We are bombarded by information every time we switch on our laptops. For some of us, it starts from the moment we wake up (does your hand automatically reach out to your phone the moment you open your eyes?) and ends right before we doze off.
But what do we do with all this information? Hine says: ‘Information doesn’t nourish us. Worse, in the end, it turns out to be boring.’ Until, that is, we attribute meaning to it.
|© Hao Ran Lai, from the series “Mobile Phone – The New Photography” on Flickr: https://ow.ly/ulrZE|
How does the journey from information to meaning take place? It ‘involves more than simply filtering the signal from the noise. It is an alchemical transformation, always surprising. It takes skill, time and effort, practice and patience…’
My fear is that by the time our grey matter has time to transform information into meaning, it is already bombarded with even more information. It just doesn’t stop. Until we tell it to.
But that’s the thing: we don’t tell it to stop. We read e-mails in the morning before we’ve had a chance to look out the window; we tap on our mobiles at coffee shops; we see the world through our camera lenses; we memorise events on our memory cards, not in our minds. And the list continues. We skim through content, share it on social media, but fail to really think about it and digest what’s really important.
Hine attributes our constant clicking and swiping to boredom. I agree, and I’ll take it a step further: it has become a dependency. The fault is neither technology, nor the volume of information. It is in the way we choose to make use of technology, information, and our time. Can we break free? Or do we even want to?