Published on November 24, 2013 | by Kate Jackson


Online art and our digital addiction

Student asleep in front of computer

Fine art is now available to purchase at the click of a mouse, as Amazon offers its buyers access to artist’s works [flickr: EM120X]

Add to cart: 1 x Pablo Picasso

It doesn’t sound quite right. But fine art is now available online, with internet giant Amazon putting masterpieces up for grabs, with prices starting at a mere million pounds.

The Economist was the first to report on this advancement in the online shopping world, announcing that works such as “Norman Rockwell’s Willie Gillis: Package from Home” was now open to members of the public to add to their shopping cart.

Amazon Art offers buyers access to hundreds of artist’s works, including that of big names like Dali, Matisse, Monet as well as many other less well known artists.

Fine art, along your DVDs, clothes and books and all every other consumable, is now available to purchase at the click of a mouse.

Could this be the beginning of the end of days spent gallery gazing and bidding at Art Fares? The art world going online is another reminder of the fact that our lives are slowly becoming divorced from reality, as we spend the majority of our time sitting in front of a silver screen, be it behind computers, phones or pads.

Drifting online

Most people would agree that our lives are steadily drifting more and more online. Socialising, dating, shopping and working are all now activities that are generally being carried out behind a computer screen, and The Guardian notes that “one in every 12 minutes of our waking lives” is now spent in cyberspace.

This is double the amount of use that was seen three years ago.

Because the internet being so widely accessible, available now from phones and tablets, it is easy to see why there has been such a soar in usage.

With the imminent launch of the new invention “Google Glass” (a “wearable computer” which offers users constant access) it will not be long before we are permanently logged on to the World Wide Web.

We now spend more time online than we do doing nearly every activity, and students are among the most prolific users.

It isn’t surprising.

Divorced from reality

Not only is it more accessible now, but the internet and computer literacy is also a necessity for nearly every job in today’s market, and it is difficult to find work that doesn’t require you to sit behind a desk in an office typing all day.

The art world going online is another reminder of the fact that our lives are slowly becoming divorced from reality, as we spend the majority of our time sitting in front of a silver screen

It is fairly unusual to meet somebody who isn’t connected to the World Wide Web, and it is considered “abnormal” if you don’t have a Facebook page, and with a reported 1.15 billion users, and 96 per cent of student users of the site, it is quite unlikely that you don’t have one.

“UK web users spent an average of one in every 12 waking minutes each day online in the first six months of 2013, with advertisers spending a record £3bn targeting them with marketing messages, according to new research,” The Guardian reported.

But there is a chance it is having a negative impact on our lives.

Psychological problems

It was reported by The Daily Mail that too much time spent online can result in psychological problems including sleeping disorders, depression, an increase in stress and even addiction to the internet, with students being particularly vulnerable due to the decreased attention span that internet use causes.

“I can definitely relate to this.” UAL Graphic Design student Melissa Cross said. “I work all day on my laptop then normally end up watching films in the evening. It disturbs your sleep and makes you feel rubbish the next day. I would like to be able to cut down the amount of time I spend online but I need the internet for a lot of my University work. I also get completely distracted by Facebook and Twitter”

This is likely to be a similar story for most students, who normally require a screen in order to carry out their work.

According to a recent study by the ICMPA (International Centre for Media and Public Agenda) students who refrained from using the internet reported feeling similar to those of a newly sober addict.

“The ICMPA study asked 200 students to give up all Media for 24 hours. After the 24 hours of abstinence the students were asked to blog about their experiences. We were surprised by how many students admitted that they were ‘addicted’ to the media. They wrote at length at how they hated losing their personal connections. Going without media, in their world, meant going without friends and family.” The study said.

A lot of time spent online isn’t great for your physical health either. It is widely acknowledged that not being very physically active is detrimental for your health and sitting at a desk all day is a guaranteed way to make you feel unfit. Too much online activity has been linked to weight gain and back problems leading the more serious long term health issues.

Human interaction

Some facts about the digital age:

  • The average user spends 75 minutes a day on Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites.
  • 55% of adults in the UK use a social networking site.
  • Each day 20 million people “tweet.”
  • Students spend at least 6 times as many hours surfing the internet than they do working.

Apple recently released a Christmas advertisement depicting families and couples having cosy and intimate moments with their various Apple products, a couple embracing turn immediately turning away from each other to take a picture their iPads and a family gathered around the fire, absorbed by glowing screens on their laps.

The irony of this advert is these technological products are making us less and less social, there is no real interaction occurring in these images, they are simply obstructing us from speaking to one another. It is very common to be in a room full of people, with most faces staring at I-phones to distract them from awkward conversations, or any human interaction at all.

“Social media” is one of today’s most unsociable activities. An article on “Fast Company” commented on the advertisement, saying that “in 20 years we’re all going to realise that this Apple ad is nuts!” and that “Apple is inadvertently demonstrates the most fundamental problems of the electronics age.”

Although it is nearly impossible to function nowadays without the internet, it may be time to start recognising the extent in which we’re sitting in front of a computer screen. Maybe it is time to ditch EBay for a bit of old school real life shopping and enjoy life outside the digital world for a while.



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