Samuel J. Tanner 3 minute read

Screens and more screens

The iPhone's captured me. I won't deny it. That damned screen.

Notifications. Facebook. Fantasy basketball box scores. I can't look away. It's even worse than that, though. My laptop has got me too.

I stare at word documents, video games, or my email all day long. I sit in my office, and stare at this screen. There's actually two laptops in my office. One is my Penn State computer, the other is my personal device. Double the screens. Write an essay. Check Facebook. Plan a class. Ugh.

What's my reward at the end of a long day in my office? I settle in front of our tv, and watch Netflix after the boys go to bed. Katie and I watch Parks and Rec over and over again. Recently, we raced through Stranger Things. What a great show. I love the 80's nostalgia. The second season was less impressive. It seemed like the creators let the success of the first season get to their head. Maybe they took themselves too seriously? I don't know. I could've done without the self-important, slow-motion death of Sean Austin. Oh well. It was still great tv. I was rooting for the smoke monster, but I still enjoyed the series.

Netflix aside, my point is this: I spend an enormous amount of time and energy staring into screens. I hate it.

Solomon loves Katie's phone.

"Mama's phone," he cries out. Solomon plays toddler games on Katie's device during Samson's naps. I won't deny this, either: It's nice to get a break from entertaining Solomon, and the phone provides a brief respite at nap time and before bed. Still, I worry about his fixation, mostly because I share it.

"Play mama's phone, please?"

I get it, Solomon, even as I bemoan my connection to a virtual, pixalated world. Fake news? Fake reality.

I like improv, in part, because I'm away from my phone for a couple of hours a week. I miss playing basketball, because my phone was at a distance. I'll start playing again this spring, I think. I know an old man came on campus at Penn State, and I miss stumbling up and down the court with the elderly.

Teaching provides a brief break from my phone. Driving too. Other than that, I'm always checking Facebook, opening my email, or staring into nothingness. Texting. Communicating. Pixalating.

Thanks so much, Apple. You've created a device that allows us to be in endless relation with a virtual world. Human? No. Virtual. Damned Terminators. Get off my lawn with your flashy devices. AI? Gross. I'm cantankerous. Onerous too. Hashtag Vocab Words.

I feel dazed and confused. Too much screens. I need a break. A season in the woods. A moment of levity. Clarity. Brevity?

Sorry, the vocabulary words are running amok. I'll leave you with one of my favorite words, even as I know you're reading this on a screen (and I wrote it on a screen):

Ignis fatuus: Beware the screen.