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Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

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published on May 4, 2021

Tiger RoholtOrcid-ID

Being-with Smartphones

In a social situation, why is it sometimes off-putting when a person reaches for his smartphone? In small-group contexts such as a college seminar, a business meeting, a family meal, or a small musical performance, when a person begins texting or interacting with social media on a smartphone he may disengage from the group. When we do find this off-putting, we typically consider it to be just impolite or inappropriate. In this essay, I argue that something more profound is at stake. One significant way in which individuals shape their self-identities is through interactions with others in small groups. Much identity-work is interdependent; it requires generating and preserving social contexts. I argue that the smartphone-use of some individuals can fracture a group’s context and thus negatively affect the identity-work of others. In this essay, I examine identity-work, sociality, and personal technology from a perspective of existential phenomenology.

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