Hearts ready to take Flight.

Saying something is one thing, doing it is another.

“I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching.”–Portia, (The merchant of Venice.)

After talking about the problems of too much screen time, I figured I better be putting it into practice myself.

It’s funny, but whenever I refrain from one thing I seem to compensate with another. I guess there’s so much time to be filled and most of us don’t know what to do with it.

That’s the trouble with a free society, people like being told how to manage their time by other people, and the people in charge have their time managed simply by being in charge. I know few things harder on the mind than doing absolutely nothing. In fact, as I’ve noted since I was a little girl, there is no such thing as doing nothing. Unless you are dead. Life and death are states of being that you don’t have to try to bring about. (I mean not that you can’t cause your own death, but that once you are dead, your body at least is not doing anything.) If you’re reading this you must be alive, so of course I’ll talk about that.

I’m all for a free society. But Time is a commodity people don’t know how to handle well. My guess is because we can’t make it, or destroy it, only use it. If you make something you usually know what to do with it. But if someone else makes something, and you’ve never seen it before, then of course, you don’t know how to use it right off the bat.

All this to make a point. Knowing how to use your time well is not something we’re born with. And berating each other for it is really quite pointless; only experience teaches the use of time. Unless of course you can talk to the person who made it (Hi, God). But even then some things we never learn without experience.

So, most of us have had the experience that staring at a screen is a normal, somehow valid use of our time. But I won’t go into that again, since I just did. I think the real question is, what are our other options? What could possibly be more fun and more worthwhile and more relaxing?

I am continually frightened by older people recounting conversations with people of my age range. They say we can’t think, that we believe only what we’ve been told all our lives, and that we have only relative moral standards. And we are this way because of our schooling and our television. Schooling is a topic for another time, but the more I think about it, the more I realize how TV and movies did influence my acceptance of certain points of view. I think differently now, but until I hit my teens I really didn’t question it. I’m fortunate to have a family with strong values, so I wasn’t a ship without anchor, but I can imagine how much worse it must be for kids with no such anchor.

I’d say an excellent use of time is in getting more educated about things. Being willing to read books that present opposing views, or at least show all sides. (I just read Red Scarf Girl which was chock full of ideas I don’t agree with, but I enjoyed it.)

For us millenials sometimes learning just can’t happen until we unplug. I have a job babysitting some kids in my neighborhood, and at first all one of them seemed to do was play on an Ipad, except for brief intervals of playing with dolls or going outside, I kind of had to push her into it. Or we’d watch a movie, but while the older ones and I enjoyed it, the middle girl would get bored and go back to the Ipad. (Anyone else see the irony of that action?) This is a five year old. The worst of it is I let her do it sometimes because I was tired or wanted to do something else. My mom finally snapped me out of it last week by pointing out that I wasn’t paying enough attention to my charges. Yikes! But I decided to make a new rule, not electronics save for the purpose of texting their parents. At least for most of the days I’m there. I admit this is not easy to stick to. It feels like I have SO MUCH TIME.

But that’s just it. I have so much time. Time to play games, and read stories, and sing and dance, and watch the baby. Time to write a story. Time to tell a story. Time to actually learn about these kids. It’s not the work of a day or a week, but it can happen; because I can be present instead of just there.

This would be a good comments topic; what things in your life do you need more time for?

I won’t say I don’t get bored, but there’s other ways to deal with boredom. I still watch movies, but having less time to do it in means choosing more carefully. Often I’ll want to watch one movie one day and a few days later I don’t want to anymore. Now I sometimes pick movies that I think will help me with a project, or I just need to hear their message again. I guess what sums it up is the reason you do something is what makes the experience valuable.

With that I bid you ado until next time–Natasha.

 

 

Flashing lights and the buzz of speakers ( thoughts on the effect of televison.)

I got a much better response on my last post than I expected, so I will try to do a good job on this follow up. Which I was planning anyway.

I like to ignore statistics and go for what I see as the heart of a matter. I don’t believe numbers speak to very many people, to a lucky few perhaps.

I quoted a TV show in my last post, which was ironically about staying away from screens. But for once I felt the show did a good job of making its point and I was actually apt to consider its truth after watching. There are very few such shows that I’m aware of.

For an opening quote here’s this little tidbit by Raymond Shaw (The Manchurian Candidate.) “Have you noticed that the human race is divided into two distinct, irreconcilable groups? those who walk into rooms and automatically turn television sets on, and those who walk into rooms and automatically turn them off.” I can’t say I fall into either of these groups. We no longer have a TV in my house, but when we did I fell more into the second category. I really don’t like television.

It’s one thing to think it’s bad for you, it’s another to actually dislike something. But I do. I dislike it firstly because I feel dumber after I watch it for longer than a half hour. (I blame commercial breaks.) Secondly, because it gives me a headache. Thirdly, I have a deeper reason: I don’t like what it does to conversation. I have relatives who will never turn off the TV set if they can possible help it. In fact, that is the majority of my extended family. I have cousins younger than ten who’ve seldom sat in a room with the absence of flashing lights and the buzz of speakers. Younger than ten. I wasn’t allowed to watch things everyday till I was at least eleven, or if I went through a phase my mom stopped it in time. What bothers me is how normal the magic box seems to kids, how inseparable from life. I have true concern for this; I’m not just criticizing for the sake of criticism.

I believe the format of screen time is a problem, but I am coming to think more and more that it’s also the format of what is shown. When you watch episode after episode of disconnected material, with more disconnected material in the form of commercials, and worse, if you channel surf as many of us do, what is your mind supposed to make of it all? Our minds are designed for learning. They organize information, process it in various ways, store it, or discard it if it’s unimportant. The more the info makes sense, the better out minds learn something of substance. Reinforcement is crucial. So is building off what you’ve already learned. This being the case, a TV show that is random and disintegrated is very hard for your mind to make any sense of. It doesn’t know what you’re trying to learn, or how, or why. So it goes to sleep in a sense. (I have no proof of this except my own observations and what I’ve heard about  brain memory and receptivity. I thought I should put a disclaimer.) Here’s the kicker, when you choose to fill your fun hours in this manner, all real learning becomes difficult and “work.” If it was just TV, we might recover, but now phones and ipads make this a constant part of our day.

We as adults and older teens have a choice, but kids don’t always. I don’t know if we realize that they’ve been taught to see screen time as necessary, normal, and a good way to please their parents by keeping quiet. For every adult complaining, there’s 2 or 3 kids who can’t understand why screen watching is a bad thing and not socially acceptable. In fact, I myself am guilty of sending mixed messages to kids about this. I have regrets for it.

Choice is the key. TV is not evil except in the hands of evil, whether an evil person or just an evil system that cripples kids. So, if we take TV back into our own hands, and sets some boundaries, we can redeem it.

Luckily, I have some experience in this area, so if you’re open, I can help.

Step 1: Remove yourself from temptation. “I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book.”–Groucho Marx.

I made the stupid mistake in my early days of resisting the screen: I would sit in the same room as it. I still do this, but I’ve learned that giving myself something else to do is a huge determent to giving in. Whether it’s doing a puzzle, knitting, or going in my room and reading, writing, or turning on the radio so I can’t hear what’s being watched; any other thing to focus on that gets focus off what I’m missing.

Step 2: Get educated.

It really is amazing what the absence of distraction does for the interest. I guess we just get so desperate without  a screen that we’ll go for anything. Try reading books. I find the more I read, the less important TV seems to me. Now to be fair, often books remind of a movie, but a movie is better assembled and can be wholesome, if only one is watched at a time. With long movies, intermission seems like a good idea to me now, just to get refocused. As I read, I change, as I change I care less about the culture’s opinions, so why would I watch things that were made only to spread those opinions?

Step 3: Get involved.

Why not spend more time talking to people. Some people only need a slight nudge to put down their phones and engage. Children may be harder or easier, it depends. But we all love it if someone really wants to talk to us, and if we had no texting, oh my gosh! Maybe we would want to talk to people! Join a group, take a walk, ask your neighbors over for dinner, go to church and volunteer for something, take a class. Check out your downtown areas. Go to a library.

“I thought we were gonna get television…but the truth is, television is going to get us.”–Dick Goodwin,

Please, don’t let it get you. We all need to fight it, because it is far more serious than we imagine.

Until next post– Natasha