As I hold my baby daughter at four in the morning, feeling the softness of her cheek against my own…
Perhaps it’s something you could document: how much of your life you ‘live directly’. If you were to put a percentage on it, would it be 50 per cent of the time, or less?
For US teenagers, the figure is decidedly less. On average, Americans aged 13 to 18 years spend nine hours a day on screens, while those a little younger, age 8 to 12 years, spend on average about six hours immersed, according to a study by Common Sense Media. Taking into account time to sleep, most teenagers in the US, ‘live directly’ just 30 per cent of the time.
To ‘live directly’ is to face the world in its raw form. Cooking, chatting to others in person, creating a sculpture, patting the cat, tending to the garden, climbing a tree, dancing to music, walking the dog – these are all examples of direct living. To live a ‘mediated’ life, in comparison, is to operate within an environment where someone else (the film director, advertising executive, author, photographer) is shaping reality for you in pictures, sounds, and words; or in the case of social media, the technology itself is determining how you interact with friends and family (‘like’ a comment here, ‘post’ a photo here, ‘share’ a joke there).
Why not keep a daily tally of ‘direct’ versus ‘mediated’ experiences? And should you ever feel like you’re losing touch with reality, the results of your tally may help explain why.
Photo: Michael Nolan