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Why You Can’t Stop Looking at Other People’s Screens

(Source: nytimes.com)

Other people’s screens are everywhere, once you start to notice them. They’re collectively most obvious at night, as they bob through the city, creating a new, hand-height layer to the ambient lights, or when held up at concerts, like lighters. During the day, other people’s screens hover around us as we wait in line for coffee, or as we sit and drink our coffee, or as we take our coffee on the bus or train.

Other people’s screens are windows into their lives, and brains, and relationships and work — into their politics, anxieties, failures and addictions. They tend to appear between one and three feet away from other people’s faces, depending.

Other people’s screens are also a lot smaller than they used to be, when they were perched almost exclusively on desks and tables at offices and in homes, where the presence of strangers is rare or worrying by default. In 2010, 27 percent of the American people carried portable screens; by the end of 2016, it was more than 80 percent. Over the same period, the largest iPhone screen grew from 3.5 inches, from one corner to the other, to 5.5. Other people’s screens got clearer and brighter, from a wider range of angles: flat on a desk; held low, for a glance during dinner; held out for a group to see; and of course, spied over a shoulder, on the way to work.

More Info: nytimes.com

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