Behavioral Blips

Elizabeth S. Bennett   December 21, 2011

Your trompe l’oeil is ringing (image via A Look Askance)

The Breakdown: As digital becomes a more constant part of our everyday lives, Elizabeth Bennett observes that sometimes our brains get confused about what mode we’re operating in.

Last week, I was awakened by a sound I thought was a forcefully vibrating cell phone. It was in fact a fog horn in New York Harbor. I frequently find myself trying to swipe the pages of a physical book if I have recently been reading on my tablet and, as hard as I try, the ATM screen still won’t respond to my unconscious finger swipes.

Most of us have experienced some version of this kind of disjointedness which has emerged from the liminal space we’re living in.  We hop back and forth between machines and the physical world, constantly dividing our attentions between three dimensional and digital interfaces. Computers and TVs have converged. Phones and computers have converged. The avenues for information and content consumption seem to multiply 10-fold on a monthly basis. (See my colleague Jake Keyes’s post on how businesses are trying to bridge the gap between the physical and digital world.)

We are also deeply influenced by all the new tools and tech that we encounter, to the point where we experience the world in ways we wouldn’t have imagined just a few years ago.

I polled some colleagues and friends to find out about the quirks that they’ve observed as their brains and bodies can’t always catch up to the demands and realities of the moment.  These anecdotes don’t all fall into the same category but they represent a nice sampling of the goofy ways we respond and react to our technology, even when it’s not in the room.

Any of these sound familiar?

“I feel my phone vibrating in my pocket – even when it isn’t even in my pocket.”

“I often get frustrated with my in-car navigation. I am so used to the pinch to zoom interaction on my phone and iPad, I often grab the screen getting frustrated that it doesn’t zoom.”

“My daughters think that everything digital is touch interactive. TV’s, Screens in cars, anything. They are shocked when nothing happens when they touch “non-touch” devices.”

“When I’m on a computer keyboard, I tap the spacebar twice to make a period because that’s how I do it on my phone.”

“After listening to a lengthy voice mail from a friend, I momentarily forgot it was a recording and responded out loud.”

“It’s so annoying when I’m about to take a great photo and somebody calls my camera.” – @JordanRubin

We’d love to hear about your liminal behavioral blips. Please add them to this post so we have a record of this zany modern moment.


One Response

  1. Kalie Kimball says:

    I find that when I’m tired I try to ‘turn’ the pages of my e-reader.

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