Monday, August 05, 2019


My wife and I spent a few days away from our home this summer, inspiring her to make the delusional suggestion that we limit our screen time. When we were away from our habitual ruts and remote controls, we connected to one another more readily.
Okay, good point, but what about the dozen, if not dozens, of people anxiously awaiting my appearance on Al Gore's Internet? What about all that TV that needs watching? Does she think The Big Bang Theory reruns will watch themselves?
Here's the worst part: I'm an elementary school teacher, and one of the discussions we regularly have with our students is how much time they spend in front of a screen of any size or shape. Do you watch TV at night when you go home from school? I do. Do you play video games after dinner? I do. Do you use your phone to watch videos and send text messages? I do.
I'm the computer teacher. Am I supposed to tell my students that they should turn off the power and walk out into the bright sunshine, ignoring all those amazing web sited to which I have so carefully introduced them?
Some more confession: I used to spend summers in a cabin without electricity and no telephone. The screens that I paid attention to were the ones on our front door that let the breeze come in and kept hte flies out. I read a ton of books back in those days. It was part of what made me such a clever kid. So precocious that I read Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain before I entered the fourth grade. I exercised my imagination by listening to CBS's Radio Mystery Theater when the lights went out. Who needs TV?
Turns out, I did. That's where all the movies were. All the game shows. All the sitcoms. All the things that eventually filled my head with things other than literature and the theater of the mind. Yes, I still wax rhapsodic for those days when I would go for days without encountering a television. I did not own my own computer until I was over the age of thirty. There are still days that go by when I don't even turn my cell phone on. Maybe because I secretly yearn for those days when I didn't need an electronic leash or babysitter.
But now this is where I read. This is where I write. And while I'm here, I might stop and watch a video or two. There's so much to be found, all but leaping from this screen in front of me. So you'd like to make a commitment to limit the moments I spend in front of this machine, or any other device with words and pictures and sound?
It's almost too terrifying to contemplate. At least that's what I read online.

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