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Há um tempo atrás o Noah Brier comentou um reportagem do The Onion.

The best onion articles are the ones that make you a little uncomfortable:

“A new report published this week by researchers at Stanford University suggests that Americans spend the vast majority of each day staring at, interacting with, and deriving satisfaction from glowing rectangles.”

Lê-se no ácido The Onion:

“From the moment they wake up in the morning, to the moment they lose consciousness at night, Americans are in near-constant visual contact with bright, pulsating rectangles,” said Dr. Richard Menken, lead author of the report.

According to the report, staring blankly at luminescent rectangles is an increasingly central part of modern life. At work, special information rectangles help men and women silently complete any number of business-related tasks, while entertainment rectangles—larger and louder and often placed inside the home—allow Americans to enter a relaxing trance-like state after a long day of rectangle-gazing.

“We discovered in almost all cases that Americans find it enjoyable and rewarding to put their faces in front of glowing rectangles for hours on end,” said Howard West, a prominent sociologist on the Stanford team. “Furthermore, when citizens are not staring slack-jawed at these mesmerizing shapes, many appear to become lost, confused, and unsure of what they should be doing to occupy themselves.”

Bem, deixemos a ironia de lado. Abaixo, Nick Carr fala sobre uma pesquisa feita com estudantes. A propósito, sempre que se falar em Ternovskiy, trata-se do criador do Chatroulette, em uma entrevista ao NYT, que Nick usa como referência. No final do post volto a ele.

The world of the screen hasn’t replaced everything, but, for most of us, whether we’re of Ternovskiy’s generation or not, it has replaced a lot. According to recent media surveys, the average American spends some 8.5 hours a day peering at a screen – TV, computer, or cell phone – and that number continues to rise as smartphone use explodes. We’ve reached a point, in other words, where it’s more likely than not that we’re looking into a screen at any given moment when we’re awake.

Essa frase em negrito aí em cima é muito pancada. O Nick Carr então comenta a pesquis feita com estudantes de uma universidade. Lhes foi pedido que ficassem sem qualquer mídia eletrônica por 1 dia.

The students, the researchers reported, “use literal terms of addiction to characterize their dependence on media.” By using the a-word – “addiction” – the researchers assured themselves of a burst of media attention. (If there’s one thing we’re addicted to these days, it’s the word “addiction.”)… “According to a new study out of the University of Maryland, students are addicted to social media, and computers and smartphones deliver their drug,” began a story at the Huffington Post. Predictably, the overheated reports were quickly countered by a flood of counter-reports pointing out the silliness of confusing the language of addiction with addiction itself.

Eis alguns dos relatos dos alunos após a experiência:

“Texting and IMing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort. When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life. Although I go to a school with thousands of students, the fact that I was not able to communicate with anyone via technology was almost unbearable.”

“Not having a cell phone created a logistical problem. It was manageable for one day, but I cannot see how life would be possible without one.”

“It is almost second nature to check my Facebook or email; it was very hard for my mind to tell my body not to go on the Internet.”

“With classes, location, and other commitments it’s hard to meet with friends and have a conversation. Instant messaging, SMS, and Facebook are all ways to make those connections with convenience, and even a heightened sense of openness. I believe that people are more honest about how they really feel through these media sources because they are not subject to nonverbal signals like in face to face communication.”

“My short attention span prevented me from accomplishing much, so I stared at the wall for a little bit. After doing some push-ups, I just decided to take a few Dramamine and go to sleep to put me out of my misery.”

“On a psychological note, my brain periodically went crazy because I found at times that I was so bored I didn’t know what to do with myself.”

Volta o Nick Carr e sua generosa e elegante escrita:

In the course of just a decade, we have become profoundly dependent on a new and increasingly pervasive technology.

Ele explica por que o termo addicetd não é o mais apropriado para a questão:

There’s nothing unusual about this. We routinely become dependent on popular, useful technologies. If people were required to live without their cars or their indoor plumbing for a day, many of them would probably resort to the language of addiction to describe their predicament. I know that, after a few hours, I’d be seriously jonesing for that toilet. What’s important is to be able to see what’s happening as we adapt to a new technology – and the problem with the addiction metaphor is that it makes it too easy to avert our eyes.

The addiction metaphor also distorts the nature of technological change by suggesting that our use of a technology stems from a purely personal choice – like the choice to smoke or to drink. An inability to control that choice becomes, in this view, simply a personal failing. But while it’s true that, in the end, we’re all responsible for how we spend our time, it’s an oversimplification to argue that we’re free “to choose” whether and how we use computers and cell phones, as if social norms, job expectations, familial responsibilities, and other external pressures had nothing to do with it. The deeper a technology is woven into the patterns of everyday life, the less choice we have about whether and how we use that technology.

Para fechar, voltemos ao criador do Chatroulette. A reportagem do NYT dizia que o amigo virtual mais próximo de Ternovskiy é um imigrante russo que mora nos EUA. Há 5 anos, todas as noites eles se falam, via MSN, até que um deles durma. Um dia eles se encontraram pessoalmente. Nick fecha seu post comentando o encontro físico dos dois amigos:

At the end of Ioffe’s piece, she reports on a recent trip that Tournovskiy made to West Virigina to meet his IM buddy and “real friend,” Kirill Gura, face to face: “‘It was a little weird, you know,’ Ternovskiy told me later. ‘We was just looking at each other without having much to say.'” At this point, there’s probably a little Ternovskiy in all of us.

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