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Caught My Brain (Part One)

I would have called this “caught my eye,” but that sounds a little too surface.  You know how sometimes a post or article catches your brain, seeps into your skin and you think about it all day?  I bookmark a lot of things, but I think I’ll unload them from time to time much like the Friday Blog Roundup, except at irregular intervals based on what is in my bookmarked folder, not necessarily about ALI subjects, and sometimes from personal blogs and sometimes from larger sites.

The first was the story of Karl Kesel, a comic book writer and inker (who created Superboy, a character I collect for the twins right now), who is selling off his comic book collection to pay for the bills associated with the adoption of his child and his child’s medical bills.  I don’t know why I was so drawn to this story: because he wrote the infamous Thing storyline where he came out as Jewish (which was meaningful to me)?  Because I am so touched by the idea of a person wanting to be a father so much that he’d be willing to trade his most valuable tangible things for a chance to be in the life of this other person.  Because this is the manifestation of love?  My G-d, if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.  But I was drawn to this post and kept returning to it.  And I hope the “Save Karl’s Comics” campaign takes off because it would confirm my idea that people are ultimately good at heart despite how they behave in comment sections.

The next is a post called “I Don’t Want My Kids to Be Addicted to Technology.”  Take out “kids” and replace it with “loved ones” because this feeling doesn’t just extend to the twins.  I worry about all of us addicted to technology.  I worry about us taking cues from each other about what is appropriate socially and all of us leaping off the technology-usage cliff like lemmings.  We see our friend checking her phone in our presence, so we start checking our phone in her presence and then checking our phone in other people’s presence… you can see where this leads.  Phone peeking frightens me more than mindfully sitting down at a screen and immersing yourself in screen time.  I’m trying to peek less — both for myself and for the example I set for others around me.  And at the same time, I know that peeking is a stress-reliever for others.  That if someone took my books away from me and told me I had a book addiction, I would be more than just a little annoyed.  I do have a book addiction; taking my books away from me would be the way you’d get me tweaking.  But I think it’s interesting that — as adults — we’d never admonish a person for being addicted to books (though I was definitely mocked by my peers in grade school) though we assign a judgment for being addicted to technology.  Why is that?  Especially when we apply it to technology that divides (ear buds and an iPod) AND technology that draws people together (FaceTime)?

The last post is a two-parter.  I’ve been thinking about Mat Honan’s hacking story for a few weeks now, as well as his follow-up post about how he got his digital life back.  It made everything seem fragile online, as if there were no systems that were air-tight, impenetrable.  I mean, there aren’t.  But stories like this remind you of how much human error factors into our relationship with machines.  It also confirmed my suspicion that for every piece of technology that we celebrate for convenience sake (cloud computing!) is also the very same technology that works against us (cloud computing!), that creates those soft, muddy holes for worming in.  I don’t know — I think I’m just highlighting it as a PSA even though it sounds as if Amazon and Apple are working to change their policies based on this story.

So that’s what caught my brain recently.


1 It Is What It Is { 08.29.12 at 12:41 pm }

I love your brain, that it catches things, and that you share them with us. As for the Karl Kesel story, I think it is both heartwarming (the lengths parents sometimes have to go to for their child(ren)) and sad that the costs associated with adoption and medical expenses would cause him to have to sell his collection. Of course, they are material, but they are also part of his history and something that would be lovely to pass down to his child. I guess there is a melancholy part of me that wants everyone who desires to have a child to not have to mortgage their lives to have to pay for realizing their dream and I want to live in a country where everyone has access to affordable health care even when that care is extreme or extremely expensive.

2 a { 08.29.12 at 2:31 pm }

My mom once banned me from books because I was avoiding everyone in my house to read. I was pissed! My daughter wants to have an iPad, an iPod touch, a laptop, unlimited TV access, etc. She’s got…lots of TV (but not unlimited) and occasional laptop access. I’m on the computer or phone too much, but I’d otherwise be reading more books. I don’t think avoidance of technology is possible any more.

It’s sad that adoption costs anything. In some cases, it’s a public service. I suppose someone has to pay for all the checks and legalities, but still…

I think about the tenuous nature of having everything stored electronically. I was just going through an old phone and came across a picture of me in the hospital before having my daughter. But there was no easy way to get the picture off the phone. So it’s gone. Also gone are recordings of my daughter babbling when she was just an infant – she could go on for 20 minutes or longer at a time. I try to put our photos on the external hard drive but soon I’m going to create one of those photobooks online so we have something tangible.

3 Tiara { 08.29.12 at 4:03 pm }

My aunt is severely addicted to her iPhone. She cannot let it buzz without checking it & is always saying, “Oh I just have to check this one voicemail/email/facebook post, etc..she is so addicted that even if MY phone buzzes she gets edgy & says, “Aren’t you going to check that?” It drives me nuts!!!

4 @ErinMarshall71 { 08.29.12 at 4:15 pm }

Thanks for bringing these to my attention.
With the sheer volume of new blog posts that go up every day, I feel like I am ALWAYS missing out on something.
Even reading blogs 24/7 I wouldn’t be able to keep up; not to mention news posts, Facebook updates, Tweets, Pinterest… my head is spinning. Which just highlights the issue of Technology Addiction, while we have collectively created a rich and full environment for ourselves, we can’t possibly consume it all in a lifetime – might as well walk away from it once in a while to experience the world that this rich environment is meant to reflect.

5 Io { 08.29.12 at 4:30 pm }

Oh, we totally got in trouble as kids for reading too much, but it wasnt so much for the reading as the behavior that went along with it (like sneaking books at the dinner table or after lights out). Even now Al gets annoyed sometimes because I will read to the detriment of real life. And now the Internet has been added…I am not getting better at living outside of my head.

6 Kathryn { 08.29.12 at 6:10 pm }

I think life everywhere, digitally, virtually, figuratively, concretely, is fragile …. something to rememvber

7 Mali { 08.29.12 at 7:06 pm }

Any addiction that is to the detriment of our relationships is I guess a problem. The issue with technology is that we have it everywhere, and people feel free to check it everywhere. I mean, I’ve had friends sit with me at cafes and check their phones, or answer a text or email that they “have to do now” rather than in 20 minutes when we’ve finished coffee. They might be addicted to books (and by books, I include e-books), but they wouldn’t sit at a cafe with me and say “I just have to finish this chapter” even though they might really really want to, even more so than sending that email or text!

Social norms seem to have changed, allowing people to be rude and answer phones and hold conversations and reply to emails and texts in front of us. And everytime they do that they’re saying “sorry, this is more important than you.” That’s the problem (in my view) with technology. Actually, perhaps it’s not technology I have the problem with. Once again, it is the issue of good manners and respect. OK. Rant over.

8 Kathryn { 08.29.12 at 8:10 pm }

Good point Mail, manners and RESPECT

9 loribeth { 08.31.12 at 6:30 pm }

I like Mali’s point about books vs technology & how you wouldn’t sit at a cafe reading while you were having lunch with a friend. Good comparison.

10 Natalie { 09.03.12 at 2:10 pm }

I love your point about books v social media. I have always wondered that, being someone who was wildly addicted to books and very anti-social until the internet. I think FB has overtaken my life in a bad way, but with friends all over the world and being stuck at home with kids most of the day I crave adult conversation and interaction. I have noticed that I do not care to check my phone when I am out in social situations, unless I am bored and alone.

I don’t know where balance exists, I am bad at it.

11 persnickety { 09.04.12 at 12:25 am }

hmm- I grew up with very limited tv options (both through external circumstances and parental control), but I read excessively. Even now it is an issue when I tell people how much i read in a week, but I acknowledge that I choose to do that with my time above other things- for example I may check FB twice a week only.
It is interesting how much later/more willing to cancel people are, now that we have mobile phones. Back when I was in High School- if you arranged to meet someone on a weekend at a particular place- you were there. Now, it is all tenative and easily changed. Good on one hand, but it does make social occasions more fragile. For so long a telephone was a symbol of something more important- so people prioritise it above a physical conversation?
My work runs training- one of our trainers is talking of banning mobiles from the training room, only to be talked away by another person, who couldn’t live without her phone in case there wsa an emergency at her child’s school. Which I get- but really, how did schools cope before the advent of mobiles? Or in any other form of emergency?
On the books thing- one of the nicest moments of a holiday in Tokyo last summer was the hour or so my husband and I spent in an air conned cafe reading, after a fruitless trudge through Shinjuk to find the world’s worst flea market. Together, but both engrossed in books.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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