Stef (firecat) wrote,

Electronic devices, attention, and subtextual messages
"Keep Your Thumbs Still When I’m Talking to You" by David Carr

This article (well, it's sort of a cross between an article and a personal opinion piece, I guess) discusses electronic device etiquette. It says what you might expect it to say: People stare into their little screens in public and with friends. Is this rude? Is it destroying social connections? Shouldn't we put our devices down more often?

Personally, I think these things should be worked out between the people who are trying to communicate with each other. I find it stressful to stare at screens and try to socialize at the same time, and I enjoy putting everything down and just sitting and taking the world in. But I don't care to tell other people what to do.

I also enjoy knitting while talking to someone and some people think that means I'm not paying attention to them, but in fact it helps me listen more closely (well, if I'm knitting something uncomplicated).

So I don't think that looking away from someone if they're talking is inherently ignoring them.

But I also know that I can't attend to two language streams at the same time, so texting while having a conversation might not be the same as knitting while having a conversation.

What really fascinates me, though, is the image that was chosen to accompany the article, which comes right after the title. A young conventionally attractive Asian woman is standing and using her electronic device, while a young conventionally attractive white man crouches in front of her, with his hand on her arm, and makes a "screeching in distress" face. Accompanied by the title "Keep Your Thumbs Still When I’m Talking to You," it seems like there is a subtextual race and gender message.

It's always been the case that there is a power dynamic involved in "who gets to divide their attention and who doesn't."

Other than that I'm not sure I can put the race and gender messages of the image into words.

Can you?

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