Silicon Shuttles to a Synthetic State

On average, we spend <insert shockingly high but hopefully accurate statistic here> hours in front of a screen every day. These screens are windows to whatever we wish to see. The internet offers us places we’ve never been and people we’ve never met IRL. Our lives exist in front of them, our eyes scanning spreadsheets and two-dimensional newsfeeds when they were designed to perceive depth and location of prey we used to hunt. We have no reason to search after running animals when we can purchase preservative-pumped meat through online retailers. Computers take away our need to move beyond the glowing pixels in front of us.

With several hours spent before screens each day, one begins to wonder the aesthetic appeal of such devices. Is it the great graphics that draw us in? New Apple products are perpetually improving upon display and interface design. Is it the simple appeal of the Internet and the indirect connections we can make with other humans? Constant improvements on social media sites and web browsers are adapting to make these experiences increasingly easier to access, speedier, and more enjoyable. Whatever the case may be, we are spending exponentially more time before screens as “better” technology continues to develop. In this sense, a significant portion of our minds and presence exists within this virtual realm. We take up residence in our homepages and online media sites, but when we exit out of our browsers, we are faced with an image that overtakes our field of vision—our desktop.

Most often, these pieces of art are beautiful depictions of the real world, whether it is a panoramic view of mountains or oceans or a photo of family or friends. These pictures can be cycled and rotate, becoming abstract shapes and designs, but in whatever case, they are what we perceive as visually pleasant. If these images are constructs of actuality, as art is most often based off inspiration found in the real world, why is it that they make such a dominant presence in our virtual existence? Perhaps we are setting up a home in the screen, a place to find peace or silence when the world is loud or find action and life when reality goes dim? If computers are the places for our minds to explore and wander, the world is left to be a simple provider. Rather than be enjoyed or explored as a primary passion, it is a place we are simply stuck in and thus escape to the virtual realm. Beautiful desktop images serve as enjoyable views when glued to the screen. These pieces of art can be seen as indirectly evil, as they are offering a Land of Lotus leaves to our visual senses, enticing them to spend more time before the screen. For this reason, I have set my desktop to the most atrocious scene I could spawn:

Rather than waste away my years before a screen, lulled into satisfaction by misleading visual art mimicking the true beauty of the real world, I hope to spend less time in front of the screen and more time in reality. Despite the many great tools it can provide, the computer is a double-edged sword. We ask it questions and it answers them. If we ask it why we should spend more time in reality, it will give us an answer, perhaps even a good one, but it will lure us back to our virtual desktops.

Google, why do I ask you my life questions? And how does Yahoo always have the answer?

Maybe that’s why I spend so much time in front of this screen?

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