Yan Marchand, philosopher from Brest: “I don’t feel capable of using a smartphone intelligently” – How to do without a smartphone



You don’t have a mobile phone. This is surprising in our time.

“I never made a leap. I’ve never felt the need to own one. Or I would take one. I am not a digital native (born in the digital age). Today it is surprising and known. They almost ask me to justify myself. But at least, you see, we meet…”.

Do you miss it in your work?

“After fifteen years of working in National Education, I have an activity that can be described as commercial as I work with the general public and children. Anything would make me want to have one, but that doesn’t bother me. In our house of four, my partner has one. He owns more than he uses. If I have to call on the way, he gives me what I owe. But it is rare. I have a home phone and a computer. When I make a decision, I check my emails. At least two days a week.”

This is a constant desire, causing chronic fatigue

You really don’t need it or you don’t particularly want it?

“Firstly, there is no need, secondly, there is no desire. Now it’s a more reasoned decision. I don’t feel able to use it wisely. It requires a fairly immediate presence and I am available to others, but I don’t want to be systematic, and neither do others to me. This is a constant desire, causing chronic fatigue.

Do you see the wireless phone as a string on your leg?

“I am ready to answer, but the request, the services are supposed to be short.” With a language that is often a request, an exchange of information… A lot of communication and quite a few words, in fact, SMS and more in social networks. They develop rather weak types of language. I don’t want to waste my free time on this kind of inquiry.”

Don’t you like having something to shield you from reality?

“It’s not easier to have real communication with this tool. Bees communicate with each other, but they don’t talk to each other. It is often utilitarian. And then portable, phone or computer, which means we have. We get our memory from outside. So it is more difficult to synthesize intellectually. Cognitive abilities are not taught enough. It favors quite separate languages: we are asked a question, we open a page. All this changes the attitude to knowledge and its recovery. We may have the right object, but not the right usage. I’ve never had a screen appetite. I don’t have a TV or a tablet. My parents are big on TV, they have laptops. I am interested in theater, reading, writing, conversation. I have a car since I was 40 years old. I got it as a family heirloom for family needs and knowing I was working further and further away in Morlaix, for example. I needed it, I didn’t want it. He drives… Otherwise, I ride a bicycle.”

Are there other facilities we are not using correctly?

“A car, maybe? “.

Social networks are an attention-grabbing business. We use our privacy to collect information for commercial or political purposes

What do you mean by “using your smartphone smartly”?

“The pot has no meaning. Only living beings have such a nature. Philosopher Gilbert Simondon tried to define the technical object. The dream of a reanimated automaton… That form will never happen. What I have experienced is a mass to approach the world. The living don’t have a reset button, we are strong in our past. Among the Greeks, for example, in Aristotle, there was such a fantasy about a self-weaving loom. Golden statues served at the feast of the gods, and the tables were moved. It is a human dream that is presented as much as possible today. Probably an exaggeration. New technologies are often just evolution. Invention is writing…”.

Our file “How to do without a smartphone”

Can AI change the game?

“Deep learning learns by itself, but cannot do without human creativity. In the 19th century there is the myth of Frankenstein. Human-machine fusion or replacement to free up work for social progress. But it gives us a feeling of alienation where it should liberate us.”

You were talking about social networks. Do you have an account?

“No. It takes time, energy, intellectual presence when you put your finger in. We expect opinions, likes… I suspect because I’m informed. I’m not arguing with the object itself (and its phone function might interest me), but with its political use. Platforms is an attention business. We use our privacy to collect information for commercial or political purposes. They play on behavioral biases like addiction, a very strong expectation of reward, just like the tobacco industry does. I am neither smarter nor less susceptible to addiction than the average person I’m not. But if I wanted to play my freedom, I would choose another product.”


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