Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why I Wrote This On a Tablet. A Paper Tablet.

I wrote the first draft of this post on a writing tablet. Not an iPad. An old-fashioned writing tablet. Actual paper and pen. Why? I'm finding the computer very distracting.

Writing on a pad instead instead of a computer is freeing because:
A) It's disposable (now that I've typed it and put it on the web, these words may live on forever: not always a good thing)
B) No banner ads
C) No beeping
D) No link to must-read stories
E) No photos of someone else's glamorous vacation
F) This is the way I've been writing since I was seven. Head goes up, you stare into space as you think, and then your focus goes back to the blue lines that you fill with your thoughts and words.

 I've been thinking lately about technology, and all the ways it changes how we relate to the world. Maybe it's all the letter-writing I've been doing this summer to my kids at camp. It's bewilderingly low-tech to write a mundane letter on a pretty note card, and know with certainty that it will bring a smile to the recipient's face. I've been enjoying my kids' letters, too (yes, I have by now received letters from both girls!).

Ok, so here I am, addicted to my computer, and I've sent my kids off to a camp where they can't stream videos, or watch TV, or call me. At all. What a relief for them! I heard a recent piece on WNYC about a renegade sleep-away camp director who is allowing campers to use tech gadgets all summer long.
'"They don't know a world without a smartphone," said Matt Smith whose family has run the camp for nearly four decades. "Ultimately, what we want to do is give them skills to manage their access to their devices."'
Ugh. I couldn't disagree enough. Give them a break from their devices, and it will show them that they can live without them. Where else will they ever have the chance?

So then I saw this story in the NY Times about a camp for grown-ups to detach from their devices and connect, in person, to other human beings.
'By removing the things that supposedly “connect” us in this wireless, oversharing, humble-bragging age, the founders of Digital Detox hoped to build real connections that run deeper than following one another on Twitter or “liking” someone’s photo on Instagram.'
Now, this is something I could get behind. Sign me up.

Summer is, blessedly, a slower time. I spent last weekend chatting with family in my parents' country backyard, sipping home-made fresh fruit cocktails, and dipping in the pool. All of that could have happened two or five decades ago. There is something to be said for pursuing the basics.

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