by Dallas Cant
In these weeks? Months? Years? Of Covid isolation and prairie winter blues, tech has kept me *working* *connected* *distracted* *comforted*. It has been my solid constant through all the pandemic feels! With this, I’ve noticed some serious shifts in my relationship to technology, both in how I use it and how I talk about it with the folks in my tiny bubble.
I resonate a lot with what Sophie has so precisely noticed in “algorithmic culture: music streaming and privacy.” This feeling of indifference toward online privacy, or lack thereof. Giving up a little data and info about your life to use the apps and tech that allow us to stay connected has become this very natural and necessary trade off! While I’ve spent hours digging around and writing about online surveillance and censorship, here I am, clicking ‘I agree’ and gleefully awaiting a new app to launch on my little screen. What is life without contradiction?!
In the past few months, I’ve noticed my own concern about privacy slipping further and further away. In my work and personal bubble, privacy has too taken a backburner from conversations about where research work is housed, where meeting notes go, where we host our group chats, how we call each other. In my own world, I know in part this feeling has to do with my own privileges – my whiteness offers me both mobility and protection in digital contexts. There too, however, seems to be this massive wave of burnout. An overall lack of bandwidth. Anxieties about our own health and our loved ones coupled with the grief of interpersonal and global loss is continually taking toll. Sometimes simply logging onto the meeting takes our remaining energy away from even thinking about privacy settings, let alone going in to change them.
I’ve asked, ‘Why Am I So Tired?!’ countless times throughout the pandemic. When I say it aloud, the heads I’m looking at on a screen typically nod with defeated agreement. Why Are We All So Tired?!
When our lives look like this…
Screen time has indeed increased exponentially. If you’re reading, take 30 seconds to just close your eyes (or better yet, naps are wonderous for eye fatigue).
In his ongoing research project, Jeremy Baileson dives into ‘zoom fatigue.’ Another very real piece of the ‘Why am I So Tired’ puzzle. Amongst outlining some simple ways to mitigate zoom fatigue when using the platform itself, Baileson also reminds readers to notice how infrastructures of technology ask us to show up.
“Videoconferencing is a good thing for remote communication, but just think about the medium – just because you can use video doesn’t mean you have to” (Baileson, para. 5).
When you’re used to using a particular platform multiple times a day – for communication, work, entertainment – the way you use it becomes embodied through repetition. If you’re like me, this repetition sometimes causes you to lose focus of your power in the matter. You can choose your settings to be more mindful of your energy levels.
This last piece of the puzzle comes from a sweet conversation with a pal – we’re all figuring out how to keep going through something very new and something continually in flux. It’s entirely fair to be tired!
Here’s to naps and doing the best we can.