Have we become slaves to our screens?

Has the digital age made it impossible to enjoy the moment and amplified our need for external validation and approval? One artist seems to think so.

Chris Ware illustrated The New Yorker’s Jan. 6, 2014, cover, and it says a lot about our society’s neurosis. “The cover, entitled, ‘All Together Now,’ illustrates an audience of parents filming their children at a school play using various digital devices,” according to an article from The Huffington Post.

 

Ware was inspired to create the cover after attending a production of “The Jungle Book.” One line in the piece particularly resonated with him: “Well, one’s own children are more important than the children of others. ... Everyone knows that. The world runs on that.” Ware posits it’s that philosophy that drives parents to go crazy with the devices. It’s less about documenting memories and more about being seen — as if to say “look at me.”

According to Ware, “the more we give over of ourselves to these devices, the less of our own minds it appears we exercise, and worse, perhaps even concomitantly, the more we coddle and covet the devices themselves.” In other words, we’re addicted to our devices and the instant gratification that comes from posting media to social networks.

We seem to live in the future, yearning for outside affirmation, and lose the ability to live in the moment.

While the former problem of distraction has existed since the portable video camera became available to the masses, our need for validation has proportionately increased as smartphones have become more prevalent.

Maybe it’s time we stop looking at the world through screens and instead live it in real time.

Lauren Caggiano is assistant editor of OSV Newsweekly.