The other day I walked into my 15-year-old’s room. She was sitting on the bed reading “Harry Potter” in one hand and playing Dragonvale on her iPod Touch with the other. I don’t know why that shocked me. More often than not she’s sitting in front of the television, nose to the Nintendo as if she were watching Criminal Minds with the top of her head. Double duty with electronics is one thing, that I’ve learned to accept. But a book. We’re talking literature here. Maybe it wouldn’t’ve seemed quite so abrasive if she were reading it on, say, a Kindle. But this was J.K. Rowling, papered and bound – and in hardcover no less!
Here’s the thing. Our mothers never “multi-tasked.” They just got it done. Whatever needed doing, they up and did it, juggling twelve things at once without needing a medal or a label to pin it on. If there was a problem they talked to you, they didn’t text it. If they needed something they ran to the store, they didn’t shop online. And when you had something to say, they gave your their attention - in person! Remember the term “one-on-one”? When did we replace it with facetime?
I worry about the world we’re building, not just the problems we’re passing on, but the way we’re allowing them to be dealt with – or not. It’s quicker to type a message on your phone than it is to weather an actual conversation. It’s less taxing to half-watch a television show when you can break up the drama with a little DS action. And it requires less imagination to read a book when you can edit in level 3 of Jetpack Joyride. But it’s all so less fulfilling, at least for those of us who would rather hug a friend than like them on facebook.
What scares me I guess is not so much losing contact with others, but losing contact with ourselves. Who are we when we can’t look into someone else’s eyes to see some small portion of existence beyond our own? To glimpse in the most fundamental way, our place in this world, because all of us have one. Something there is that doesn’t love a text. And I – I took the road less tweeted, and that has made all the difference.
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