Unplug Me

Posted: March 20, 2014 in Modernity & Network Culture


I was spoilt for choice with this blog! Finding an everyday urban space in Bristol is like finding chocolate in Cadbury World – no problem. The difference though was I didn’t want the crowded space where digital and space crash together in a never ending stream. Instead I chose a less obvious space, somewhere where there was the hint of aloneness – a glimpse of the individual without the digital world. There was an Orwellian sense of urgency about this – where could I go and not be digitally disturbed?




Outside @Bristol is a calm outdoor urban area and as far as I could tell, a relatively digital free zone. But almost immediately, I was disturbed by someone walking past, talking loudly on their mobile. Which reminded me – I must resist the urge to look at my phone for messages. But as Turkle (2011) states: “The pull of these devices is so strong, that we’ve become used to them faster than anyone would have suspected.” Immediately I began to think of messages I might miss or worse, that in that hour, no-one would text me! Turkle continues, “What is so seductive about texting, about keeping that phone on, about that little red light, is you want to know who wants you.”


 I lifted my phone to take the first photo, it buzzed! Immediately on the screen came the announcement that I had 4 new notifications from 3 different programmes! I laughed at the irony of the digital media crashing into my quietness. Poised to take the first photo, an area of the building came to life and I was faced with a giant TV screen promoting a Bristol Festival. I think the question to ask here is did I mind? I was aware of a growing tension between ‘wanted’ and ‘unwanted’ digital media. But in order to look at this point objectively, I need to be able to unplug myself from the digital age and view the networking of public space as an almost before and after phenomenon. My generation is drenched in digital media and we are not really sure of the impact yet. There is a wealth of evidence out there linked to the advantages of the digital age. We can keep in touch with people all over the world, we have immediate (at least in the developed world) access to unlimited information. I can buy anything I want, pay for it and have it delivered without leaving my chair and yet alarm bells are beginning to ring! Varnelis and Friedberg in ‘Place: The Networking of Public Space’(2012) conclude that “Global connections versus local disconnections, the growing overlap of local and virtual presences….will utterly reconfigure our relationship with place and all offer opportunities as well as challenges.” It would appear that although I can choose my place (as I did for this blog) I am not always in charge of what is in it.




Turkle, S (2011) Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other Basic Books


Varnelis,K and Friedberg,A (2012) ‘Place: The Networking of Public Space’, MIT Press


Humphery, Kim (2007) Australian Humanities Review. Issue 42



  1. Gillian Swanson says:

    You didn’t send me your posts but I’ve tracked your blog down so i can comment! This shows an energetic engagement with contemporary urban space, but needs a lot more grounding in a discussion of key issues and arguments in the material we’ve consulted on the topic. You need to start off with an explanation of the topic, identifying key issues and arguments. Also, what are the key concepts which help you explore that topic, and how are they defined – you really only introduce the reading right at the end and so you don’t really use it as part of your discussion.

    You need to make your blog less ‘chatty’ – it is meant to be a disciplined academic discussion!

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