Smartphone at home

Above: Smartphone use as an aspect of domestic life. Credit: Picjumbo.

Child on tablet

Above: A child using a tablet digital-device in a home environment. Credit: Annie Spratt.

Toddler using tablet device

Above: A toddler using a tablet device as mother and baby look on. Credit: Alexander Dummer.

Two toddlers watching cartoons on an iPad

Above: Two toddlers watching cartoons on an iPad. Credit: Jelleke Vanooteghem.

A person typing on a laptop keypad

Above: A person typing on a laptop keypad. Credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters

A small child using a tablet device

Above: A small child using a tablet device. Credit: Kelly Sikkema.

Home Life

Real-time-based instantaneous communications devices and apps. function as a secondary parallel life: the monotony of everyday life is overlaid with a second perceptual realm causing the individual to live a split or "stereo" way of life--i.e., two discrete simultaneous mono channels (actual lived bodily experience here-and-now; one's virtual life-and-identities). However, there is a hierarchy of priority for these two channels of experience with the virtual-online taking de facto precedence at all times: "people's daily life [turns] into a sort of waiting room where you wait for the unexpected and where what suddenly turns up always prevails over the here and now (FI: 61)." Because of the "imposture of the immediate (AD: 48)," digital technologies--Internet; social media, etc.--tend to integrate-inculcate a cognitive climate of distraction and the "fly-catcher memory." Internet browsing often tends to be unsystematic, haphazard, and unmethodical (AD: 42). There is a loss at the level of cognition of the "hierarchy of the crucial and the incidental (AD: 47)."

The delicate tempo of home life is endlessly punctuated by the act of checking one's digital device, an action which is triggered by a compulsive urge experienced as a craving no different to an addict's need. And in this way home life is stripped of its natural rhythms. The principal consequence here is a new scene of human anxiety--worrying about one's online presence; numbers of social media friends; whether posts have been liked, etc. This low-level-but-pervasive anxiety is comparable in many ways to the continuous threat and fear of nuclear war during the Cold War. Both attack basic human rhythms, and in fact basic human dignity (GA: 61-62).

Another major undermining force disrupting home life is the tendency for work organizations to require employees to use digital communications (email, mobile telephony, etc.) well beyond ordinary office hours thereby increasing workloads and diminishing again the extent and quality of home-family life.

Due to digital technologies home life (in the Developed West at least) is becoming ever more stressful--the tech-user is in thrall to a plethora of digital devices that can cause severe physical and psychological effects if overused, "tetanization [intense muscle contraction], vertigo, overexcitement ... shock [even] a total loss of consciousness in photosensitive subjects similar to the orgasmic effects of epilepsy (AM: 73-74)."

So too, in the context of transformations of home life there is the disturbing trend of distracting and placating infants using digital devices. It is troubling that small children (and in fact babies) are often introduced to the digital screen very early in life--constant reliance on the screen is normalized and the scene is set for later device addiction. Infants are placed in front of cartoons and all sorts of TV shows and entertainments; there are actually dedicated baby TV channels. Infants often watch their device screen transfixed, mesmerized, as if in a hypnotic trance and this is a cause for concern (UD: 80-81).