At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Let Nothing Stand in the Way

If you've followed me on Twitter or Facebook the last couple of days, you know I promised I'd be back on the blogging horse this weekend. I did say that I'd be dealing with alleged reasons for being a writer, separating truth from error in those reasons. And I will be getting to those matters. But I ran across something this morning that, in my opinion, is pure gold.

First, watch the video posted above. It's Louis C.K., star of FX's Louie. There some objectionable language (bleeped out) in there, and I personally would refrain from his characterization that kids with Smartphones are stupid, but he makes some incredibly sagacious points.

Watched it? Good. Now for some of my thoughts.

Louis is right on in so much of this diatribe. He says some great stuff about the whole bullying thing via text (and he could have easily expanded it to cover a lot of social media), and his words about how the cell phones short-circuit empathy and the ability to give complete attention are well-taken. But two other things struck me.

So much of what we do today--I'm convinced--is not taken up by living but rather by the whole avoidance of the entire spectrum of living. Louis is absolutely correct when he says we use these devices known as phones because we want to avoid any amount of sadness in our lives. The truth is--and I'll be blunt here--so often we don't want to be alone, we don't want solitude, we don't crave those quiet moments of introspection where we are subject to the magnificent ebb and flow of our emotions...ergo, we reach for something that will connect us--in whatever artificial, brain-dead way--to something that will help us avoid being alone. It's even gotten so bad that I'll see Facebook posts and Twitter tweets from people saying, "I'm bored, somebody text me."

You're kidding, right? Have you ever thought of going out for a jog or a walk and getting some fresh air? Of going for a swim? Of reading a book on your front or back deck? Of baking a cake? You're so bored that you'll take a text message (likely from someone else equally as bored and more shiftless) over doing something active? Good heavens.

Another related idea that struck me is the application to education. Don't get me wrong...I use Power Point and other technological blessings in my classes, but I do my darnedest to make sure they play secondary (or better, tertiary) roles. The primary way kids are going to learn is through the relational dynamic with the teacher who empowers them to wrestle with truth claims and their applications. Technology can assist in this area--for example, the school where I serve is experimenting with iPads in the classroom at the middle school level and moving it on up the grade levels--but it should never replace this relational dynamic. If it does--and if educational leaders are comfortable with that--we're in trouble.

I realize this sounds bizarre to say when this very blog is dependent on the Internet for you to read this, and yes, I have a functioning Twitter account, regular Facebook page, and a Facebook author page. But there's no way I'm allowing those items to be an artificial barrier between myself and the authentic life. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, not merely gotten through.

As P.D. James said in her dystopian futuristic novel, The Children of Men, giving us a window into Theo Faron's internal dialogue, “Feel, he told himself, feel, feel, feel. Even if what you feel is pain, only let yourself feel.”

What say you? Watch the video again if you need a refresher. Would love to know your thoughts.

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