A thoughtful post on “de-screening” made me think a bit about our cross-country trek. Night one was spent in a cabin. While cell phone reception was spotty and there was no wi-fi, the television did have cable channels. So on it went. “What do you want to watch,” they asked me. “Nothing,” I said. But the screen didn’t turn gray.
Do we have an addiction to hand-held screens? If so, blame our humanity and not the generation. I recall tv as a constant soundtrack in my home growing up. When I moved out on my own, I was de-screened for years. If European (or any) culture had had screens in a past age, they would have been using them. Whenever I call my mother, for example, I hear cable news or a soap opera in the background.
Indeed, last night’s stay was in a wi-fi-capable hotel, so I had to peel away from the book-sized screen last night to pray while the women went out for a late dinner. And I’m tapping away early today while they catch their last bits of sleep.
Rand Richards Cooper touts many benefits of his two weeks (mostly) without the internet:
Most of all, de-screening spurs conversation.
And I give a skeptical “maybe” to the assessment. If people are inclined to talk, then yes, they will talk. But if people don’t want to talk–parishioners who want to go their own way, or family members simmering in a feud–then the lack of screens won’t help. Someone will just pull out a book, as I did when on vacation. Or take a lonely walk. Or drink to excess. This generation still does a lot of the latter–like all its predecessors.
I’m not convinced it’s a generational thing. If people are invited into significant conversation, it doesn’t seem that where their plug is plugged is a concern. Or their age. Or maybe that, as a minister, I’m in a position to have those fleeting conversations that others claim are disappearing into thumbs tapping on a screen carefully cradled between two hands.
Some of us might be relative neophytes at it, but I think conversation, person-to-person, is still available to us. At least until the process of evolution takes away our voice boxes and mouths.