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March 11, 2019


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Hey Jaime! I'd love to attend a retreat with no-phone zones. Too much phone time is not good at all.

I was sitting in the waiting room during the kids' taekwondo practice, and a child behind me was watching a video on mom's phone with sound on and no earphones. And I wondered when that became socially acceptable, to just chuck your phone at your kid for keep 'em quiet, without actually ensuring the quiet. I was trying to read, and my child next to me was listening to a book with headphones on, so it did begin to grate on my last nerve after a while.

I'm also off FB for Lent, as a discipline, though it's surprisingly easy. I have no problem cutting the whole thing out. It's the moderation that's killer, and also the ability to read foolish things without falling into a contempt for humanity.

I was at the allergist this morning with Lucy and in the waiting room I was stuck between the Scylla of the ever-present television (playing Paw Patrol) and the Charybdis of the woman playing some kind of game on her phone with the sound on. Lucy and I had brought a bag with books, sketchbook and colored pencils, ipad and Kindle. It was a new-to-us office, but I knew she'd need entertaining while I filled out paperwork and then again while the actual allergy testing was happening.

Even though she'd brought along her own entertainment, she could not tear her eyes away from the television to her sketchbook for more than a couple of minutes-- I was actually impressed she managed that. After I filled out the paperwork I despaired of making any progress in The Brothers Karamazov and so settled for Facebook Messenger and my email instead.

I did get some reading done in the exam room while we waited for the nurse, but not during the test itself, during which Lucy needed me to hold her hand to keep her from scratching and to read to her to keep her from thinking about scratching. Eventually we did resort to the ipad. I don't typically throw them at kids, but allergy testing seems like a definite use-case for ipads. And then back to the waiting room where even her favorite game on the ipad could not compete with the vapid fairy princess show on the tv.

I haven't given up social media, but I am trying for moderation and it is killer.

I've read that book a couple of times over the years ... recommended reading, for sure!

One of the not so hidden blessings of my brain tumor induced disabilities is the difficulties it causes in computer usage. I haven't been able to coodinate and use a desktop or laptop for nearly nine years now,so we don't own those tools ... I have my iPad and the physical challenges are such that my usage is self-limiting enough that I don't worry about 'too much' screen time: it simply isn't possible for me reach that zone ... That said, I certainly do remember, vividly,how easy it used to be for me to get sucked and overdo it online. And: post- brain tumor, wow — my paper books reading depth and engagement has reverted to my skills and depth of yore and am I ever grateful!!

(Please excuse any typos — i can't always see and fix them)

"Nicholas Carr says the links in online text turn reading into a constant exercise in decision-making. Do I click this one? how about this one? maybe this one? Carr says the reason we're all more impatient with long-form articles than we used to be is that reading has become more cognitively strenuous for us."

YES. And I find that I worry: if I'm reading this article, and I *don't* click on this link, will I miss something I need in order to fully understand the thing I'm trying to read?

And there's something else I've begun to worry about, from a scholarly point of view. It almost seems incomplete, to just put in a hyperlink to something that the reader must now go pursue...rather than actually weave it into one's text (or at least, a footnote), like we'd have to on paper. It feels a little bit...like the scholarly burden is being shifted from the scholar/author to the reader.

The "no earphones" think baffles me as well -- and it's not just kids. It's adults, in a quiet room, suddenly playing a video with sound on. I don't understand that at all.

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