Is technology ruining our view of the world? Are we spending so much time with our faces in our phones that we miss what's going on around us? Are the teens so invested in their Facebooks and Insta-whatsits that they're missing out on arts and culture because they're so invested in their technadoodles? Not necessarily. We actually can't know technology is making someone miss out on an experience if we don't know what that person's experience is.

Bette Midler recently posted a photo of three teens sitting on a bench at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. They were all looking at their phones with their backs to the painting "Aegina Visited by Jupiter" by 18-th century artist Jean-Baptiste Greuze.

Midler asked Twitter, "What's wrong with this picture?"


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When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

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