Pin It
Favorite

Screen Seekers 

Publisher's Note

click to enlarge art19137.jpg

It’s our most ubiquitous sign of the times — that guy you see on the street every day, staring intently down into his phone. Or the two ’tween girls walking together at the mall, each studying their own phones separately. Every time I see them, I think, “What are you hoping to find in that little screen of yours?”

One of my favorite books is The Seekers by Daniel Boorstin, a review of world philosophy. “We are all Seekers,” Boorstin wrote. “We all want to know why.” His panorama runs from Aristotle’s wandering, powerful mind to Jefferson’s balancing of the individual and society to Henri Bergson’s stream-of-consciousness take on human evolution.

I’d love to know what the Frenchman Bergson would make of the smartphone. We literally have the world at our fingertips. For those with an Aristotelian mind, you can voraciously surf an endless sea of knowledge. Jefferson — a tech junkie in his time — would love how connected the Internet can make us. As we connect, as the barriers of language and distance fall away, we become like a great web of shared consciousness. And our chance at enlightenment — the central goal of Jefferson’s time — improves.

But to Bergson, human progress — evolution, even — is the byproduct of free will, mobility of the mind and that creative human spark nobody can quite explain. I am sure that a screen connected to everything would have thrilled him. Maybe it can help fill that percentage of our brains we don’t use. Maybe it can create better people. Maybe it can help us realize peace on Earth.

So what are all those people seeking in their screens? It’s basic human instinct — yes, we are all Seekers. They want to know more, which is why Wikipedia just might be the greatest wonder of the modern world. They want to connect and fit into society, just as Jefferson hoped. An Instagram to a friend is, in fact, a social building block. And Bergson believed we are all hard-wired to grow and make progress, individually and communally.

But before you start telling everyone that staring into your phone is actually quite good for you, consider that to Bergson the crucial piece in the puzzle of humanity is personal experience — to feel the world, to live the emotions, to take in the reality of it all not through a tiny screen, but through your own eyes. And for that, you need to put your phone down and take a look around you — especially when you’re cutting into my lane while chuckling over your latest tweet.

Tags:

  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Good News, Bad News
  • Good News, Bad News

    Labor is winning concessions... just as robots are arriving in the workforce
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • Mad as Hell
  • Mad as Hell

    The economy's ups and downs have created profound dislocations, but yelling won't fix anything
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • Bryant: 'No' to Trump
  • Bryant: 'No' to Trump

    Trail Mix: A local non-endorsement and Trump's Putin problem
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
Free State Parks Day

Free State Parks Day @ Riverside State Park

Thu., Aug. 25

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ted S. McGregor Jr.

  • Staying Engaged
  • Staying Engaged

    From the Mayfair Cafe to Central Park
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • Institutional Amnesia
  • Institutional Amnesia

    Threading the needle between reform and revolution
    • Jul 7, 2016
  • For Your Consideration
  • For Your Consideration

    Classic rock, a modern Altman classic and the big man throws it down (on paper)
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • 'Unreasonable Threat to Life and Property'

    Spokane's rental housing has problems, but landlord and tenant groups are split on a solution
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • 'End of Story'

    Condon administration aims to close the controversial Frank Straub chapter — but last week's scathing report has irrevocably changed the narrative
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation