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The phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty and embodiment in the world


Recently, I’ve noticed something strange about what my body does while I’m flicking through apps or reading on my phone. I’ve become conscious of my irregular breathing patterns, and how much tension I’m holding in my back and shoulders. The technologist Linda Stone has noted something similar, describing the way her breath becomes shallow, and sometimes temporarily stops altogether, when she sits down to work on her emails in the morning. She terms the problem ‘screen apnea’.
Perhaps even more striking for me, though, has been the realisation that I’m often simply unaware of my body altogether. It’s as though, when I enter into a digital ‘space’, my body as good as disappears. This perhaps explains why I’ve always found the narrative of online platforms competing to maximise and monetise ‘eyeballs on screens’ to be vaguely unsettling. The problem is not just that this paints a totally mechanistic picture of the human organism: it’s also that this disembodied picture aligns

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