Sunday, January 22, 2012

Beside the points

We barely talk anymore.

With work and kids and crazy schedules … we're rarely alone.

Tragically cliché, I know.

There he was … sitting across from me in the living room, sprawled on the couch as the light from the wood stove painted the room in romantic saffron light.

The television was on … playing a movie we'd barely seen because we continually check emails and status upstates and whatever-else lights up the flickering screens of our smartphones.

Evidently, we're no different than at least 40 percent of US smartphone and tablet users who say they routinely surf the web, visit social network sites or check their email while doing other things … such as watching television.

Personally, I think that figure, arrived at by the Nielsen rating people in October of 2011, seems on the low side, especially since the number of people who claimed to only rarely multitask was around 14 percent. A study released about a month later by Yahoo Mobile and Razorfish put the number at 80 percent, which seems more likely given the substance of most television and the infinite possibilities available on YouTube and LOLCats.

As a society, it pains me to think we learn more about ourselves from Damn You Autocorrect than from The Nightly News, but there it is. … the only daily briefing that makes me laugh until I cry.

We hate it, don't we? Yet, even as I lament the march of progress, I fill my cell phone with apps.

Oh sure, we try to fight it. We make rules we both fully intend to follow …

We promise ourselves we won't check our email during dinner.

We will let all calls go to voicemail.

We won't even look at the text massage that scrolls across the screen.

I won't check Twitter. He won't find out which eBay item he's lost to another bidder. And for a time we are successful. We talk about our day or the the things we have to do tomorrow. It almost feels like the old days … before the invention of the wheel or indoor plumbing.

But before too long the lure of the LED backlight draws us back to it like moths to flame.

In our souls we know the danger, we try to to kick the habit, but we're hooked to the gills on technology.

We talk about an intervention. We talk about where all this distraction will take us in two or 10 or 20 years.

Somehow it feels like trying to stop a flood-raised river with a handful of pebbles.

I type quickly and hit send. A generic alert tone dings across the room. He inhales and picks the phone up off his chest, where it was resting like a pet as he inspected the insides of his eyelids.

He read it and snorted.


He sounded incredulous, as if I he couldn't believe I was finally getting serious.

“Yeah … D-I-V-O-R-C-E.”

“ … for 72 points?”

“I used all my letters and picked up two triple-letter scores.”

“Nicely played. Nicely played.”

If we can't beat them I suppose we might as well join them.

At least it's something we can do together.

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