Sometimes I write my column by hand before I type it in. I sit at a tattered writing desk, the kind that sits on a table top. Cover opens on a hinge with space underneath for writing paper, pens, envelopes, and stamps; Closed, provides a smooth, slanted writing surface.
Categorizing thoughts into words behaves somewhat like my ballpoint pens, starting quietly and gradually flowing smoothly from hand to page. When I’m settled, the hand and pen might surprise me with some utterance, some choice of word or analogy that I didn’t expect. There may or may not be music playing.
This piece, however, is as I write on a laptop, my eyes staring at the screen light, and my fingers pounding the keyboard instead of drawing letters with a pen. The sentences initially stop, like a browser running slowly on startup, and when they start, a pulse of light shoots out from the mobile. I’m checking it out; Of course I do. What if it was something important?
It’s a message posted by someone I haven’t seen or spoken to since 2001. I’ll start. Jaws.” He and other people I once knew already post all the good stuff: “Lion and Prejudice.” “The Courier Always Rings.” “One Candle.” Quickly, I added “The Cook and No One Else” before returning my eyes to the laptop, After I lost any idea I had begun to express it.
When I write by hand, I used to drop the phone at the writing desk and close the lid on its flash and its faces. The phone is a tool of constant use in my job; At home, I’ve been trying lately to put it on the shelf when I’m home and my kids are awake.
Also, we recently banned almost all recreational uses of computers in our home for the rest of the year, so it’s not fair to check Twitter around them.
I didn’t think “screen rage” was an actual phenomenon until my kids flew into Category 4 hurricanes when they were told to turn off their devices overnight. It’s so annoying seeing tantrums in teenage kids like me. Other families have reported similar outbursts around electronics.
When we force a break from these things, our children soon start playing and singing, asking questions, running and jumping, discovering things; But the gray haze recedes when we reinsert the electronics and the kids drown in the furniture, stare at the panther and soon fly in a rage again.
It hardly looks better for adults – to the extent that there are species. In the Sun News, my colleague has a sticky note on his computer screen that reminds him, “Never read comments,” but sometimes we can’t help ourselves. What a bush inferno scene of screaming sock puppets (which is how I imagine anonymous internet accounts), poorly formed minds, cognitive stubbornness, wretched and psychological violence are “social media.” On the other hand, there are cat videos.
How much do any of us really need? Does it serve our health and happiness? How much does it hurt us?
Our house, it so happens, has some books, musical instruments, toys, and art supplies, as well as doors that open onto relatively safe outdoor spaces, which is where the kids belong for most of the day anyway. My teenage son seems delighted to run with me along a quiet front road at sunset. Another kid explores ghost stories, another climbs on top of me to discuss elephant furniture, mushroom superhero powers and soccer strategy.
However, it is difficult to exercise control. Hardware has a way to crawl back. Besides being addictive, electronics are intertwined in a lot of our interactions, and my son does most of his homework online. I see his laptop, but he doesn’t seem to have any textbooks.
Let’s say a word about interest. The sight of young children holding devices in their hands is smoke, and the fire is occupied by tired parents and distracted parents.
What is revealed when the devices are put away is that what most of us kids want, still is, is us. They also learn how to be with themselves and with others. No application regenerates lost inner life; And if we cannot love ourselves, we can forget to cherish others or our world.
Or write to him at PO Box 84, Deming, NM 88031.
desert sage It now runs monthly. Here are some recent columns: