Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ditch the screens

Screens! Screens! We spend our lives in front of screens, screens as large as an iMax theater screen, as tiny as an iPhone. The other day, we passed by a development of new houses near a highway. How awful, I said to Jack, that these huge, expensive houses have such tiny plots of land and are located smack up against the highway. It doesn't matter to the families, though, he said, because they live inside in front of their screens.

I was walking on the Ithaca Commons last spring, on a most glorious sunny day, watching the amazing show of humanity, feeling the warmth of the sun, and then I noticed that every other person who walked along nearby were engaged not in the reality around them, but in the tiny screens they carried in front of them, their eyes cast down, their thumbs busy.

Computer, television and movie screens mediate our experience of what is real until we become confused and think that what the screens show is more real than the material world itself. We lose sight of reality and one another. This communication we have here through a blog is better than nothing, but it does not replace your presence at my kitchen table, sipping tea, eating fragrant apple coffee cake and sharing ideas. That experience is round and rich and full. I can notice the way your face changes when you feel deeply about your topic, how you sip carefully at the hot tea. I can feel the touch of your hand on mine and know you deeply, and experience the person-to-person contact we humans desperately need.

This screen is flat. You can't reach out and touch me. You can't see how my eyes fill with tears when I think about what will happen to the children in a world of only screens.


Laeviss Falki said...

Yeah, I'm old-fashioned. I ditch the screens whenever I'm away from the big ol' main computer of the house. I can't stand to be walking around with a tiny screen in my hands when I could be enjoying the scenery. But my son seems to prefer the screens. Sigh.

puny human said...

Our kids were brought up on screens . . . we can't protect them from the screens unless we "protect" them from the culture itself, but we can make sure they experience alternatives . . . which I know you gladly give to your son. Thanks for the comment.