Is Mobile Technology Making Us Anxious?

Mobile technology has cured boredom; there’s no doubt about that. Between checking emails, logging into each of your Social Networking Sites to check for updates and notifications, using any of the millions of apps and games, anyone with a smart phone, tablet, or ereader on them is going to be constantly stimulated, never suffering from those boring waits we all hate. Sounds great, right?

Think about it: when you’re stuck in the waiting room of your doctor’s office, enter a long line at the store, have 30 minutes until the next bus comes, find yourself with a few seconds before class starts, or even just make it to the restaurant before the friend you’re meeting…How long does it take you to pull out your phone (or tablet, ereader, etc.)? My bet is it happens pretty fast. For most of us, it’s second-nature.

In fact, I was amazed when I went through Customs last weekend, a strict no-cell-phone-zone, how many people—including myself—were tempted to ignore the rules and persistent nagging from officers to “put away your phones.”

What, besides intense boredom, are we robbing ourselves of with these quick-fixes of stimulation? First, reflection. By filling every gap of time between our daily activities, we spend less and less time looking back what we’ve done—unless of course you’re recounting your day for the purposes of that Facebook status or tweet. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone journal. Reflection can also apply to our lessons or what we witness happening around us. Another underrated time-filler: observation. When you’re on your cell phone between destinations, how likely are you to remember how you got there or what you saw on the way? Or maybe you just need to zone-out; that’s often the source of many great ideas. It sounds simple, yes, but maybe our mind deserves this break from technology.

Without a doubt, these technologies have enabled us to utilize these previously “wasted minutes” by keeping up on emails, news, and work, which is one of their greatest advantages. But does that mean we now feel compelled to fill every second of our day with such things? What’s wrong with sitting and essentially doing nothing for fifteen minutes? I can’t even remember the last time I did.

Sometimes this problem transcends even occupying boredom. Jazmyn brought up texting and driving; surely there is adequate mental stimulation while driving that we aren’t so bored we are forced to get on our phones?! What about those people, or maybe friends you have, who are on their phones for no apparent reason while you’re hanging out? Assuming they aren’t merely bored with you, why do they do it?

This makes me wonder if we are truly denying ourselves that mental rest I mentioned previously, or if to some extent, we are incapable. The ability to instantly satisfy our boredom with smart phones or tablets has made us used to constant stimulation. Social Networking Sites and unlimited texting have made us used to always having that connection with our friends, as mentioned in The Human Connection.

Is this baseline of stimulation causing us to feel anxious without it? Are we bothered by that unfilled time? What do you guys think?

Bigger Breasts?

Are you guys excited for the Dead or Alive 5 coming out soon? As background, DoA is a video game series with multiple platforms, including PlayStation and Xbox. It is a fighting game that’s pretty popular because of its innovative fighting mechanics.

The series is well known for casting top-heavy female characters with bouncing breasts, but the designers of the 5th game attempted to decrease the breast size of their female characters in the demo. This short article explains the considerable amount of fan feedback for the demo that requested, of all things, bigger breasts.

This raises a few concerns, and because it’s gender week, I’m going to talk about them!

Corporate Responsibility?

Notwithstanding the potential that there are many lesbian gamers or heterosexual females that just like to look at big boobs, it’s safe to say that the fan feedback suggests DoA supports a large male audience. Is it acceptable, then, for the designers to cater to their primary audience’s “needs,” since this is ultimately a company seeking profit? Or, as Cassell suggests in Wednesday’s reading (p.12), should this (and all other) games be expected to take on the responsibility of “underdetermined design” to avoid reinforcing gender stereotypes?

Valid Need?

The article quotes the Team Ninja director: “If you have a solid fighting game system there, there’s nothing wrong with having beautiful characters as a layer on top of that–that’s another layer of entertainment that there’s a need for.” However, this is strictly a fighting game. Can we really consider large breasts in the background a “need” that will enhance the game and its sales, or is this demand simply juvenile fantasy that should not be encouraged?

Objectification?

Are guys carrying out their stereotypical, age-old objectification of women, or is their demand acceptable? After all, though I haven’t played the game, I watched a clip of it and noticed that although the women have large breasts and are invariably attractive, they are also impressively realistic in their design: no Barbie-sized abdomens or ankles. Furthermore, the women’s primary purpose is the same as the men’s—fighting—and they seem to be just as independent and capable in combat. Furthermore, they present a variety of gender expressions, like feminine and masculine clothing, and long and short hair. Is it really a big deal, then, if they have large breasts?

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Female gamers have sexual needs too.

Since DoA must also have a female audience with “needs”, should we then demand that the male characters have more prominent penises, in the name of fairness?