Control Your Screens, Or Your Screens Will Control You

WE LIVE IN PUBLIC tells the story of the Internet’s effect on society as seen through the eyes of the greatest Internet pioneer you’ve never heard of, Josh Harris. Award-winning director, Ondi Timoner (DIG!), documented his tumultuous life for more than a decade, to create a riveting, cautionary tale of what to expect as the virtual world inevitably takes control of our lives.

This is a subject I’m particularly drawn to at the moment, because we are spending hours upon hours bowing to the almighty screen. Are we not?
My friend DK, who is a scholar, just took a 31-day road trip around the U.S. and shunned email the entire time. Now he’s at a retreat in Arizona studying Aldo Leopold, again with no email. He actually left his laptop at home in Salt Lake City. Can you imagine?
DK said to me, “I hope you don’t find this off putting. You can reach me by cell phone.”
I said, “No. I’m insanely jealous.”
Media used to be this thing that was separate from self. It was the newspaper on the front porch. It was FM radio in the car. Now media is inextricably tied to self, thanks to sites like MySpace and Facebook, where everyone can have a say and shape an identity that may or may not translate to offline, corporeal reality.
Being online all the time is like never getting off the interstate, you just go and go at top speed but you never arrive. What my friend is doing is taking an exit ramp to a trail head that he can casually walk. While he walks he can think. The life of a philosopher, I know. But just think, you too can walk and think.
Back away from the screen. Turn the cell phone off and walk outside for at least one hour. Do it now. You’ll be back with fresh ideas.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.