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  • Writer's pictureJamie Clark

Look up: life's joys beyond the screen

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

25 years ago, Michael Jordan, a member of the Chicago Bulls made one of the most iconic shots in sports history. This moment was captured by one of the sports' photographers - showing the thousands of Utah Jazz fans behind the basket holding their breath, heads above head - expressing their nerve about Michael Jordan taking this shot. What we can observe here are thousands of humans reacting to something marvellous in sports history.


Michael Jordan famous shot in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA finals

Fast forward to the present day, and we find ourselves witnessing yet another significant moment in sports. This time, it's Lebron James surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all time scoring leader in NBA history. Again - another historic moment in sport. Only this time, everybody behind the basket is watching it through their phone - except for Nike Owner Phil Knight who you can see down at the baseline.


Lebron James passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the leading points scorer

These two sports examples serve as a lens to observe the profound behavioural changes that have occurred in just a quarter of a century. It has become instinctual for many people to capture important life moments through the lens of their phones rather than experiencing them directly with their own eyes.

Undeniably, the rapid rise of technology has brought about positive changes. It has increased efficiency in our lives, freeing up more time for other activities. It has uplifted communities out of poverty and enabled us to connect with people from all corners of the globe. And naturally, I wouldn't be able to write and share this article on my personal website without the support of technology.

These benefits feel widely acknowledged and uncontroversially agreed upon in society.

But the question is; who really is in control now?

Are humans driving tech, or is tech driving humans?

Statistics suggest that on average, people spend between 3-4 hours per day on their phones. While the sheer volume of time spent on phones is alarming, an even more significant trend is the frequency with which individuals use their phones throughout the day.

Statistics on how many times we pick up our phone every day

Source: Rescue Time

According to Rescue Time, 69% of people pick up their phones 40 times a day, using them for under 2 minutes each time. That's 40 instances of phone usage, indicating a constant presence and automatic reliance on our devices.


Our Spirit

What I observe is a growing divide within our social fabric - a separation between those who embrace technology and those who do not.

Those who are not well-versed in technology feel somewhat excluded from society because they are not "connected" in the same way. They may struggle to stay informed about current events, trends and new behavioural nuances.

The rise in use of social media has created separation within how people are expected to behave and interact with one another. Short-form messaging, emojis, and the brevity of posts have altered our communication styles in real life - promoting quick and concise interactions.

While this can enhance efficiency and facilitate instant communication, it may also lead to a loss of nuance, depth, and genuine emotional connection in our conversation - both digital and in real life. Basically, we are living in a more competitive landscape to get somebody's attention.

The reliance on digital communication can diminish our ability to engage in active listening and empathetic understanding, potentially affecting our interpersonal skills.

These dynamics can be alienating for people who feel very 'alive'.


The race for regulation

And in the past decade, governments can't keep up on social media regulation.

Children can't drive, smoke, drink alcohol, vote until they are 16-18 (in most countries) - yet we often see kids as young as 10 years old navigating their phones and social media accounts like it was second nature for them.

Social media platforms are constantly evolving, introducing new features, algorithms, and ways to engage users. The dynamic nature of these platforms often outpaces the ability of government regulators to understand and respond to emerging challenges.

As a result, there is a continuous misalignment between regulators work and the societal threats that new technologies are posing.

This can be dangerous. As evidence, I suggest watching some of Meta's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg's address to congress.


How do you want to live?

What kind of energy do you want to contribute to the world?

I would suggest: just start by looking up. Smile at the people you encounter on the street, embrace the environment around you, and nurture your creative and unique self.

The energy we put into our every day interactions is what gives or takes our energy.

This video by Gary Turk - that was published nearly 10 years ago - powerfully narrates the opportunities you can have, by just simply, looking up.

Life is beautiful, and you see more of it by looking up.


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