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Hippie Squared: screen screen everywhere a screen


a blogumn by Jeff Rogers

screen screen everywhere a screen. a screen with somebody yapping at you. it used to be that the consolation  of having to go to certain places where you knew you’d have to wait awhile for something—the doctor’s office, getting your car repaired—was at least you could get a little reading in. you could bring a good book and park yourself in a chair and have a little peace, just let your spirit loose a little, let it expand and heave a long inner sigh.

now it seems there’s always a tv going. there’s always a screen with somebody yapping at you. now it takes a conscious effort to push that away and cling to your reading, cling to the self-management of the pace of your thoughts. there’s a tyranny of time and attention wielded by the yapping screen. it clocks you at its rhythm, it jams your brain waves with its signal, it wrenches you from your inner track.

as gas prices increased and it took longer to fill the pump I took to carrying a section of newspaper with me, leaning against the car and letting the gas flow and reading a few paragraphs of a news story. now even there, perched above the self-serve gas pumps—a damn fascist screen, sqauking ads and news. sure, I want the news, but folded in my hand it moves at my pace. I can scan a few lines and catalog the information, sift it, weigh it and slot it. consider it. even at the damn gas pump there will be no respite nor refuge in this brave new world of the omnipresent screen.

getting you car fixed, used to be you could count on knocking out a few chapters of something, ripping a real chunk out of it. it might be an hour or three. it felt like for that blessed period you had an excuse for dropping out of the mix and landing in a field of time all your own. it didn’t have to be comfortable. a hard chair and a bad cup of coffee were just fine. but now, with the tv yawking, and a bank of chairs with decent cushions, I still can’t get comfortable. It’s like I’m sitting on bed of spikes with a cloud of bees buzzing in my ears. I have to get up and walk around, go find a coffee shop. if it’s coffee bean and tea leaf, guess what–there’s usually a screen. at least they often turn the sound off. but it’s still there, isn’t it?

screen screen everywhere a screen.