The Power of Analog

The Power of Analog

There is an energy in the air I’ve been feeling around me for some time now and has infected me: the need to go back to analog as much as possible.

It started with my kindle which went from mega-library at all time in my pocket to empty-battery technology taking dusk on my desk in 4 years. (4 years during which I had to buy 3 kindles). Yes, I do spend more than a kindle per year in books, and yes, it takes a massive amount of space, but the sensation  and emotion it gives me are incomparable. Plus, it’s proved invaluable to collect wisdom and knowledge efficiently.

Little by little I have found myself yearning for more in-real-life experience. For spending less time on my computer or in front of technologies and more time living things in the palpable world.

And it seems I’m not the only one. When Jack White toured with a No Phone Allowed policy that forced his audience to be fully present, here is what Raptitude‘s blogger David Cain noticed:

The no-phones policy illuminated something about smartphone use that’s hard to see when it’s so ubiquitous: our phones drain the life out of a room. They give everyone a push-button way to completely disengage their mind from their surroundings, while their body remains in the room, only minimally aware of itself. Essentially, we all have a risk-free ripcord we can pull at the first pang of boredom or desire for novelty, and of course those pangs occur constantly.

Every time someone in a group of people deploys a screen, the whole group is affected. Each disengaged person in a crowd is like a little black hole, a dead zone for social energy, radiating a noticeable field of apathy towards the rest of the room and what’s happening there.

Björk recently released all her albums on… K7

Bjork_K7_The Power of Analog_Mentorless

And it’s not just with the world of music. Netflix recently announced they were going into the world of print.

If all this might seem a bit counter-intuitive at a time where we all try to be more responsible, consume less, amass less, pollute less, I believe all those movements are strong signal that something is currently missing in our lives and we are all feeling it.

Yes, streaming is amazing. Yes, the Internet is fabulous. And no, the digital world will never disappear. But emotions get lost in translation when they travel through the digital world.

American professor and writer Cal Newport talks about how our brain can’t process digital interactions the same way it does with analog interactions, in the Hurry Slowly podcast:

Anything that is non-analog, texting, comments on social media, or likes, you see as just serving a logistical purpose. Their main purpose is to help set-up real analog interaction and you switch your mindset, so you no longer count your text conversation as “Oh I’ve had a conversation with that person.

And so if you’ve only been texting with someone for the last month you would conceptualize that as “I haven’t talked to this person in the last month.”

And how once we’ve realized this, we tend to operate a shift and find ways to go back to non-digital interactions that stimulate our brain and makes it feel alive:

Once you shift this mindset to say “that type of digital non-analog conversation doesn’t count as conversation, it doesn’t count as an important relationship“, it changes the way you think about things. You put in an effort to get back to analog conversation. We have a lot of evidence to suggest that this is incredibly valuable for our social human brain. We need the sort of data stream you get when you have an analog conversation where you get the nuances, the voice, the tonality and pauses, and body language if you are in person. We need that. Our brain doesn’t understand one bit of a thumb up on Facebook in the same way it does a wink or a smile from someone in person, it just doesn’t process it in the same way.

And so you can actually feel extremely lonely, even if you never goes more than 5 minutes without some sort of electronic conversation with someone.

In the paradoxical world we live in, we are both fighting to consume less and pollute less and reconnect more through analog activities and encounters.

How will this affect film? Will it affect film? (and by film I mean anything video really) We shall see soon enough.