Categories
Psychology Social Media Tech

Tech this out

Technology controls us. The companies that make the hardware and software hijack our attention and turn us into distraction-seeking mice. None of this is good for our cognition.

Reward and pleasure are addicting, so much so we get anxious when the pellets stop showing up. That’s when we reach into our pockets and pull out the slot machine disguised as a smartphone for another hit of dopamine.

That Instagram heart, the Twitter retweet, the Facebook like–they are all designed to steal our conscious attention. They say sitting is the new smoking; how about pecking at our smartphones? Walk down a busy street; both walkers and drivers are looking down. Self-driving cars can’t come soon enough!

This continuous partial attention is not only causing cognitive load, but it’s also putting our lives at risk. We’ve become transfixed on creating and consuming bite-sized rewards.

Learn to focus. Learn to be bored. Learn to daydream.

Categories
Arts Culture Fashion Social Media

Devouring optical information

There’s optical information everywhere — on cereal boxes, to ads atop taxicabs, to the best quiche recipe on Pinterest.

We are bombarded by the same signals we signal right back, purchasing the Nike sneaker posted on Instagram yesterday.

Communicating through images negotiates a plausible reality. We consume and project, show and inspire others. Assume everything can be experienced, to a degree.

But the ordinary person lacks power. The influencers and marketers, once copycats, still dictate trends. Clout is an information advantage.

The evolution and ubiquity of images choke the world, tarnishing the concept of bear-naked nothingness.

The screen (never) fades to black.

Categories
Culture Tech

Hearts manipulated at scale

Art by @annasalmi

Hearts manipulated at scale. It’s as if social media is the new religion. The double-tap ❤️ permeates everything, so much that we stopped going on vacation for pleasure — instead, we travel for the purpose of accumulating likes.

Studies show that if your phone is in your field of vision you won’t be able to resist it. Do you think you can go without your phone for a whole minute? No way! Not if it’s within reach.

Overstimulation is an impediment to insight. Self-knowledge and new ideas percolate in disconnection. Yet it pains people even a minute to sit with their own thoughts.

The tug of war between consciousness and screen addiction is real. The lite brite is there to kill different avenues of thought. Fidget spinners are just sops. Give your mind permission to dodge the hook.

Categories
Culture Social Media Tech

Taste the rainbow, on loop

There it was, crushing the human will. It was the antithesis to my Kindle Jenner, a screen of sanctity for focus and learning.

The lite brite is an attention thief. Like a fresh bag of Skittles, it begs you to consume your favorite colors first.

The rainbow hue of Instagram may be the shiniest of them all. Beautiful photos have a smell, as love does.

On the go or at home, there is no sanctuary. The barrage of dopamine erases all head consciousness. Enter wonderland.

The only escape is Gmail, that insignificant other who instills a feeling of control. Yet, it too is goose chase to unproductivity.

The internet never ends. Like a perpetual wave of Hokusai-like talons, buffering into the collective consciousness. Altered attention, altered thoughts, altered beliefs, forever planted at the altar of distraction.

Categories
Arts Creativity Photo Challenge Photography photoJournal

Visuals: Faceless portrAits

Atop

Adrift

Adjacent

Afar

All photos by Wells Baum

People from behind + Story + Favorite place + Faceless

Categories
Tech

Human rationality and craziness

Human rationality and craziness
via giphy

The most successful people are both rational and crazy.

As much as robots and artificial intelligence threaten our creativity, there will be some people who cultivate the randomness of thought to continue innovating.

Wrote Jean-Luc Godard: “It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.”

See the world, not its model

Patterns beg to be synthesized, broken down and encrusted with ingenuity to make something new.

Humans envision the future and work backward, mostly through the freedom of trial and error. They see holes and fill them in with new opportunities.

Folks may never know where they are going, but that is exactly how they get there.

Categories
Culture Photography Psychology Social Media Tech

How Instagram homogenizes our creativity

Instagram is a clash of sameness: the same travel pics, coffee cup shots, and innumerable selfies. The app ‘homogenizes‘ photography so that all images look roughly the same.

It’s always refreshing to see Instagram users who are trying something different, who are using the platform to explore their creativity instead of posting endless food porn.

Not only are we drowning in photos, the conformity of images is ruining the art of photography.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are countless apps for editing your photos and videos to make them stand out from others in the feed. VSCO offers some unique filter capabilities but apps like Hyperspektiv and Photofox transform your photos into something unique by mixing elements of graphics and paint.

Adding interesting captions is another way to differentiate ourselves from the crowd. Tell people what the image is about or give a unique interpretation of what the eye can’t see. Even better, bewilder the viewer and keep them guessing. Like photos, all writing is in the edit.

Give everyone a camera and the stage, and they’ll exploit it just like everybody else. The upshot is a mass experience that mostly dulls expression. Scratch it up, discolor the frame; dare to be different.

More Cliches 🚫

Categories
Creativity Photo Challenge Photography photoJournal

Enjoying the silence of GIFs

giphy-downsized-large-1The mind fills a silent GIF with sound.

The flags flickering in the wind, the lightbulb dancing at a Mexico City bar, to the whistle of leaves swinging outside your window.

Living in the distraction era, noise is ubiquitous. Standing still, the decibels around turn up to match the horizon.

But the calmer it becomes, the more you hear.

Silence deafens the external stimuli. In nature, it rings with the the highest volume.

TuRn it up!

giphy-downsized-large

giphy-downsized-large-1

Categories
Creativity Photo Challenge Photography photoJournal

Walden, water, and wifi

One day we’re going to miss the powerful silence of the natural world, the way it smells and begs for an inquisition. That’s because “most people are on the world, not in it,” wrote the father of national parks John Muir.

In putting a “fence around nature,” we lock ourselves into a secluded wall of emotional current.

Nature nurtures, it humbles our deepest desires. Because we can’t control the skies, nor the mercurial blob of ourselves, we must give in to nature’s fickleness and beauty.

We’re going to be shocked when we wake up from digital’s second life and realize that becoming also means embracing the evolving whims of those things around us. We are overpowered by the Earth’s forces.

Perhaps naturalist Bernd Heinrich said it best:

“We all want to be associated with something greater and more beautiful than ourselves, and nature is the ultimate. I just think it is the one thing we can all agree on.”

Categories
Creativity Photo Challenge Photography photoJournal

Weathered or not in New York

The weathered we address: What kind of weathered is it?

It contains multitudes.

Graffitied

Exhausted

2016-01-19 08.21.42-1

Chipped

2015-09-11 13.38.05-1

Bruised

Split Tourist

Photo May 29, 2 11 24 PM.jpg

Weather-ed

2016-01-25 09.00.47-2

Exposed

Repaved

Rushed

….Retrofitted and restored

Processed with VSCOcam with m4 preset

Weathered rock or stone, broken glass, ruptured pavement, blinding headaches, winters wear down New York but its city dwellers weather in, on, and through in flexible shifts.

All photos by Wells Baum