July 19, 2019

The Internet's Good Place

“We now look at our phones more than we watch TV. This may seem self-evident to those of us who watch TV on our phones, especially we who have repeatedly viewed the Mad Men lawnmower episode on the subway to make commuting less bleak. But we finally have hard data to back up our suspicions: we spend three hours and 43 minutes on mobile devices daily, while only three hours and 35 minutes spent viewing television.

This feels right. We’re always scrolling, often idly and reflexively, at whatever photos, wife memes, and vacation selfies pop up on our feeds, and this is particularly troubling if we already have to be online all day for work. For a while, the more professionally shot, heavily edited, and artfully arranged a photo on my feed was, the more it depressed me. Part of this was jealousy and a desire to have taken it myself. But then I found a mundane haven: a Twitter account called Uninteresting Photographs that offers precisely what its name suggests.

Aesthetically, the account’s photos sink under their own drabness — here’s a stack of folding chairs shot from an ungainly angle, here’s an antiseptic break room with shades of Dunder Mifflin — but mentally, they provide the equivalent of logging off without actually unplugging. The more an image doesn’t resemble the airbrushed, hyper-styled content that I scroll past on Instagram, the sweeter it is to me, like a completely ordinary fleet of clothes hangers or a static shot of an empty computer lab.”

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