When the printing press rolled out people whined it would be the death of conversation, storytelling, chitchat, but like always human interaction subsumed the new technology and made it good.
But whereas pencils dance to the tempo of the hand and the brain, iphones call the tune. The magic box creates more and more easily what it took lifetimes to pick up: impeccable handwriting, for one. Thinking becomes auxiliary to the device rather than manipulating it, and it sodoing transfigures articulation to txtspk. There’s an analogous translation of music to beats.
We can’t turn the tide on technology – newspapers and record players in their way assimilated small bits of human experience – and apps will shape our thinking yet into short, sharp, immediate blocks. We will, and already do, think differently and experience differently, in some ways for the better.
But the value of crayons and instruments remains intrinsic, and the sensation of creating sound or shape with the fibre of your skin and bone will endure in us. They command discipline, which gives muscle to our expression. They conduce a pleasure more lasting than mild clickbait surges of dopamine. We’re right to whinge that kids spend their lives on screens but more crucially we might practice those things which bring better. Dance classes, fearless cooking, grade 2 piano, anecdotes and jotters. It means to keep that space alive and thriving which makes us better than screen addicts – or rather, which addicts us to healthier things.
The caption from this article is a picture taken from the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2015