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Scott Bahlmann

Dear M,

My favorite period to read about is the turn of the century; Anne of Green Gables, The Glass Sentence, Madensky Square, and I think it has to do with the relative simplicity of life then. There were fewer decisions to be made, fewer noises to block out. It was common to sit quietly at times, and appreciate the work you’d done, and your respite from it.

Another key aspect of life at that time was the limited social sphere. I guess this carried on through other ages, but it seems to have been at its peak of refinement. There were detriments, certainly. You couldn’t really get to know someone outsider your social class, or level of employment. As such, you essentially had to make do with what was in your immediate vicinity. You had parties with your neighbors; you married someone from your town, you all commiserated about the crotchety neighbor together.

This certainly wouldn’t be the life for everyone, but it is appealing to me. In today’s world you have to introduce, and often re-introduce yourself a number of times a day, certainly any time you go out socially. We are zooming about in our little spaceships, wizzing past other vessels and then losing their signal in the vastness unless we dock and travel together. Primarily, our socialization takes place in the digital realm. 

I can only imagine what it would look like to an outside society, all of our movie watching, and reading, and screen time. It's as though we are students of life, emotions, experiences. As if training for hypotheticals that almost never happen. Are our lives so dull that videos, quizzes, and galleries must occupy so much of our time? More importantly, what can I do about it in my life? 

Realizing what I want is an important first step. I've decided to put my disconnection on the scale, and before extracting myself from the moment to scan or sift through all the stimuli so readily available, I will pose two questions. Is my present situation so boring that this diversion is justified? Or, of all the options open to me in this moment, is this the one that will bring me the most fulfillment? Certainly, there are times when I'll answer yes to those questions while waiting at a bus stop for an overdue ride. I think, though, that even just admiring the view would superscede scrolling though a news feed. 

There is indeed an educational aspect to screen time, and an inspirational aspect, that I appreciate. But that inspiration tends to wane so quickly. Still, in that moment it exists. So watch your videos, read your books, and then go out and do something worth watching. And don't mind if you are the only one there who chooses to appreciate it.