In experimenting with not using her smartphone on the daily commute, Dr. Dennis-Tiwary began writing poetry to track her subjective experience and assess how her state of mind changes in this activity. Read the excerpt from her recent blogpost below, and the full blogpost and poetry here.
I think a lot about how our use of digital technology, social media, and mobile devices shapes how we feel, think, and behave; shapes our muscles and our memories. There is no doubt about the host of benefits afforded us by all of these technologies, but their costs are both obvious and hidden.
We know that sometimes we feel addicted to them. We know we devote an immense amount of time and attention to them. Although they should be working for us, we often feel that we are working for them. We may even feel more tired and stressed and discouraged after being on screens. Muscles tense, furrowed brows. No one feels free on screens.The cult of efficiency tells us that we can and must get more done.
We are learning more about the consciously addictive designs of these technologies, mobile devices in particular. They are meant to hook us in. We now have no doubt that our views and clicks, our “data”, are the basis of the attention and surveillance economy, a multi-multi-billion dollar behemoth of an industry. As a psychologist and neuroscience researcher, I think about states of mind and brain when we use these devices, mobile phones in particular.
So, in the great tradition of obsessive scientists throughout history, I have been conducting an experiment on myself. Instead of using my mobile device on my daily subway commute, I now take a little notebook, about the size and shape of a small mobile device, and write poetry.
Some of the poetry is about my personal experience of technology, but most is not. The goal of the experiment is to track my subjective experience and assess how my state of mind changes when I think in poetry, express ideas in verse, write with a pen instead of click, swipe, click, swipe. No goals. Free-flowing thoughts. Efficiency the last thing on my mind.
Here are the poems I’ve written so far. I’m still collecting data. I’ll report back later in the summer and post more poems as I go.
If anyone wishes to join me in this experiment, please do so! Post your poems in the comments and I’ll post them on the blog (attributing them to you, the author, of course).
To continue reading my full post Experiments in Subway Poetry, click here.
The full blogpost is hosted on my website, Psychescircuitry.com, a blog dedicated to exploring how we navigate and make sense of the world of digital technology.