It's the complaint we're all making. We clutch our devices and mutter phrases like "but [Insert Social Networking Site] is so stupid, why do I love it" or "yup, first thing in the morning, just in case" or "and they sat next to each and didn't look up from their screens."
It's true. It's a problem. We're being hammered thin as glass, but what really makes us mad is that we're the ones holding the hammer. I'm a teacher. I see kids trying to multi-task--convinced that they work better if they're flying a spaceship, or listening to Drake, or texting while listening, reading, or talking to their friends. They're so confident that us old people are just freaking out for no reason. And then they ask their friend to repeat what they said because they were, like, so totally on snapchat just then.
Is there anything to be done? Probably. Could parents take away electronic devices and weather the screams of withdrawal? I guess. Would we better human beings on some level if an EMP sent us back to the 1890's? Who cares that would be terrible!
So we live with what we've become and try to make the most of it. Everyone has different techniques--reading, going for walks without earbuds, locking the phones away on date nights, whatever works.
I've been doing two things recently that have not made me more productive of a writer but that have helped calm me down at the end of the day.
One: When I get in my car I don't go to my podcast of choice--lately it's Men in Blazers or WTF. Instead, I dial up old KMFA on the radio dial and listen to classical music and enjoy that I have a 15 minute commute in Austin. I like the music, but more than that I like not having a voice, narrative, or complaint in my brain. It's scary. It's weird. I have to resist the urge to keep listening to Marc Maron's interview with Carrot Top. It's basically Louis CK's bit about using our phones in our cars to drive away the sadness.
Two: God this sounds pretentious but I've been trying to watch more old movies. My girlfriend left her Hulu account logged-in and I've been tearing through the Criterion Collection like a hipster through...actually, I'll take that back, one does not tear through 47 Ronin, or Bulldog Drummond, or 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, or basically anything in this series. I love it. They're slow. They're old. They're set before computers were a thing. And while watching I only check my phone twice or so. Sigh. That's an accomplishment. That social network really is stupid.