Monday, April 15, 2019

Presumably John Green's Favorite New Internet Article

Today I read an article entitled "How to Quit Your Phone and Change Your Life By . . . Doing Nothing." 

It profiles Jenny Odell, who is one person advocating for humanity's race away from technological immersion before it is too late for all of us.

It was well researched and made a good argument for why digital addition is a real problem that might be the end of us all if we don't admit the fact of its existence and do something about it. And so it is similar to the Climate Change problem as well . . . something that lots of people argue about, something that lots of people don't want to deal with, and something that lots of less fortunate people don't have the luxury of indulging either.

Halfway through reading it, it occurred to me that this might be--as the title suggests--YA author John Green's new favorite long-form read. Heck, he might even have been reading it when I was reading it this afternoon, as we both prepare to experience the live show taping of Harry Potter and the Sacred Text in his hometown of Indianapolis. If there is a Q & A time during the live show, maybe I'll even try to get to the mic and remember Odell's name long enough to describe the article.

See what I mean?

Now, it is clear that John and I don't have dovetailed views on all things, but I bet he's had some time to read this article and he shook his head in agreement while going through the paragraphs.


I keep telling myself (probably with lots of naivete) that I do a pretty good job of keeping social media and digital interaction at a reasonable level. It is true that I take more time watching old media (television) than lots of people still do, so I'm certainly not without my own addictions. But when I use social media, I do it--comparatively?--sparingly? And I certainly don't spend lots of time cycling down comment rabbit holes and getting into arguments.

I think I use the Internet superficially. And so I hope I hold it a bit at arm's length. I used to have grand designs for the Internet and me (read between the lines of almost every WWYG?! blog post between 2004 and 2010 . . . or later). But I got older, didn't change at all, and internalized my fate. The vast gaps of updates on this very Internet location speaks to that truth in my life more eloquently than anything I might try to type right now.


Finally, as good as the article is, I couldn't help but criticize--and internalize--the second to last paragraph. The author wraps everything up in a nice bow by sitting quietly with Odell, unplugging and absorbing the world beyond our screens. It is a nice mannerly scene but I couldn't help but think that were I to be the author, my mind would be running ceaselessly to mentally capture all of the wonderful details that are described. How is prewriting the article in my head a better use of time? Wouldn't it be even better to switch the brain off entirely and maybe not have a good memory of what transpired?

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