How do I experience digital media in my daily life? When confronted with this question, it immediately started an on-going thinking-process in my brain. As if mechanical wheels were moving faster and faster until they reached their limit and stopped. The initial reaction, when proposed with a large question like this is to go into overdrive and overthink. Wanting to describe too much. Which, in the ideal scenario, would result in including everything. In reality, it translates to too much information and thus results in: ERROR.
Therefore, to start this first blog, I will analyze a small part of the question: How do we experience? What is like to experience something? To finally achieve an answer that shows us the impact of the digital media in our day to day lives. Or, as I argue, how digital media cannot be considered an experience anymore but has grown invisible in the spotlight of today’s society. How we do not experience digital media anymore, but we merely experience its absence.
Digital media: today’s invisibility
Nowadays, digital media seems very common for most generations in today’s society. It has evolved in such a rapid tempo that stopping it seems impossible, thus pausing and consciously considering the impacts of digital media is very difficult. It cannot be ripped apart from the current society. It has become integrated and invisible in clear sight.
Therefore, I argue, that digital media, in a way, has become invisible in our day to day lives. By waking up from our set alarm clocks on the Apple X plus to falling asleep to some video on Youtube about the cameo’s we all missed in the second ‘It’ movie. Companies with new high-tech gadgets encourage consumers to always want more, to always want faster and better technologies. But in such a way that we are encouraged to let digital media run every single part of our lives, but in a way, we are not aware of it. It is merged with everything we do. Digital media are not an experience anymore, they form a lifestyle we unintentionally all inhabit.
Digital media have become inseparable in the daily cycle of work, school, study, entertainment, politics, economics, humanities, advertisement and so on. Even just sitting in the train confronts you with digital media. On the screens there is mostly travel information, which is there to make our lives easier, to provide the traveller with info. But it is something we do not consciously notice anymore, it is just there, in our environment. Forced to be normal and to be part of our environment, not a phone or a laptop you can just turn off. It blends together with our daily life experience, thus normalizing their presence.
The experience of absence
The only moment we still, truly and intensely, experience digital media is in its absence (Delfanti, Arvidsson 2018, 3). Not the moments we do have our telephones in our pockets to reach for in times of boredom. But the moments we experience the tiny heart-attack when this phone is not in our pockets. It is not the digital media we remember experiencing in our day to day lives, it is the absence of it we remember and truly experience.
Think of it this way, in day-to-day life digital media have become so common to use. To make life easier, faster, and better. To enhance our day to day experience. They are designed to be invisible, designed to be used and to enhance what we already have. To not only hear but to be surrounded by sound. To not only see but to see it move. To not only feel but to experience. But in this way, digital media works paradoxically. It is there to visibly enhance our lives, but as a result, has become so normal and indoctrinated, we do not notice it anymore. We do not experience the presence of digital media anymore, it has become normal and part of our (domestic) culture and lives.
Take another train example: imagine walking from your train platform to the bus platform. A normal, day-to-day experience. You walk around, see lots of people running to get their trains. You pass some strangers at the kiosk and you sit down to wait for the bus while looking at an advertisement for Gillette. Normal walk, right? Except what you missed to see was that the people running had just bumped into one another because one of them was checking their phones. You missed seeing that next to you are three people sitting, one on her laptop and two on their Iphone’s. You missed seeing you were looking at a digital advertisement screen.
How do I experience?
It is not the digital media we experience anymore. It is not something that catches our eye immediately. Well, it does, but it does not form an experience anymore we consciously notice. In a way, it was designed to be visible but turned out to be invisible, because we see it everywhere. It blends together. It has become normal. Therefore, when confronted with the question How do I experience digital media in my daily life?, I say: I do not.
Arvidsson, Adam; Delfanti, Alessandro. 2018. Introduction to Digital Media, New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.