Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Screen Time

There's a restaurant near my home that is, shall we say, a little leftist in its leanings. They have a very progressive bookstore on the premises and they sponsor quite liberal lectures, readings, etc. Not surprisingly, the decor is pretty hip, and in one section, they run a continuous slide show with interesting illustrations that sport provocative captions.

If you're me, eating there and facing the screen, the slides, although undeniably cool at first, can become a borderline detraction from your dining experience-- especially the ones that are a little disturbing or have too much text to read before they switch. It's probably because I am obsessively drawn to the screen; I can't ignore it, and so I read the messages over and over.

I've recognized that screen time has become a bit of an issue with me lately, so much so, that I have begun deliberately limiting my exposure to the computer, iPad, and iPhone. Just today, I realized that movies have to be included, too.

TV is not as big a problem for me-- I must have overdosed long ago, and like a drinker who stays away from gin, I know my limits for television. There is family legend about me craning over the railing of my crib toward the TV, and as soon as I could read, I memorized the weekly TV Guide. (Of course, back then, it was just three networks and UHF.)

But all of that aside, there is much of value to be gleaned from the constant bombardment of images and text that we both choose and are subjected to. In the slideshow, for example there was one caption I found compelling every time: I just want to hear one person say that it wouldn't be the same without me.

It's not what you might think... I don't need to hear those words; I think I need to learn to say them.

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