"Let life enchant you again." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
June 30, 2014

Look Up – The Digital Backlash Will Not Be Live-Streamed

Are we too dependent on our digital devices? This powerful video and the experience of using maps in everyday life suggests maybe we are.

Just in case you are not one of the multitudes that have contributed to this video reaching 42 Million views in the space of a little over two months, then take a few minutes to watch Gary Turk’s spoken word film, Look Up.

Watching this video for the first time with my daughter (who brought it to my attention), it was pretty clear this speaks to far more than just the so-called “digital generation.” There’s a challenge here for all of us to engage more with our physical environment and depend less on the often illusory emotional appeal of our online spaces.

In fact, it’s pretty clear for those willing to look, that a backlash of sorts, against many of the frustrations and false promises of social media is well underway. Whether people really spending less time online, or simply expressing a wish that they could unplug more often is, of course, another matter.

I’ve been pushing myself to rely less and less on map and location apps while here in Tokyo. These apps are wonderfully helpful at times. But, I find depending on them actually weakens my ability to create a map in my mind (as Borges would say) and build the connections that help me understand my new home town. Moreover, they tempt me to rely on online sources in English to find my way, rather than asking locals and in turn, reinforcing my nascent Japanese language skills.

Apps and digital devices are fantastically powerful. I love having a camera in my pocket & yes, maps can be great when one is really lost. But, it feels like many of us have outsourced vast swathes of emotional and cognitive energy into these tiny hand held screens. Anything that inspires us to claw some of that back – to literally stop and smell the flowers, rather than just walk past them with our head buried in a device, has my vote of thanks.

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