The excellent dystopian episodic series Black Mirror explores the dark underbelly of technology, especially of the social webs we weave.
For longer than most, displaying my Luddite late-adopter tendencies, I used my cell phone only for phone-ly things: making calls. Even after getting a smart phone, I didn’t do much more than text. Eventually, I began checking email and using maps for navigation. Finally, I added Twitter to the mix (though not Facebook). When a 2018 study revealed that people check their phones 52 times a day, I felt smugly superior. (Of course, I do spend much of my day at my computer, checking email, browsing the web, and popping on and off social media.)
Yet until last week, I had watched only a handful of videos on my phone, and had never done a video call. Even with my kids.
All that has changed. My son and I chatted earlier this week. And a few days ago, I was scrolling through Instagram when I came across a video from Ned Buskirk, of YGTD. In other times—what I now should get used to calling normal times—I would have scrolled right past. Instead, I watched it. And a peculiar thing happened. I was moved to tears. It might have been Ned, who is genuine and vulnerable in a way few people can be, at least in public. But it’s also that these not-normal times have changed my relationship with the technology I resisted for so long.
Now that we can’t leave our homes for the in-person gatherings that keep us connected and sane. I’m beginning to think these little mirrors are going to save us all.
Ode to our screens
You are flat and you are glaring
inert and cold and never caring.
But you contain both kin and friend
A portal through which now we send
shout and murmur, whisper, plea:
Won’t you keep me company?
And from your depths arises comfort
A smile, or such, to soothe the hurt.
When this all ends, as end it must,
Will screens retain our grudging trust?
For now, I welcome what you give
Not ideal, but it’s a way to live.
Things we can do on our screens to keep ourselves sane
Watch livestreams of nature and animals
Buy books from a local bookstore
Use video conferencing to connect with friends and colleagues
Do yoga at home
Go on MeetUp and browse for events that are moving online
Watch movies we missed
Listen to Mozart
What are you doing these days to stay calm and stay connected? Let me know in the comments.