I have been watching screens for the majority of my life. Television came of age when I was a very small child and my life, most of all our lives in Western society at any point, became intricately intertwined with the things which were being broadcast upon that little screen.
Even at first, although the “programming” was mostly innocuous, it was influential. How I tied a towel around my neck and pretended to be “Superman” and jumped off my porch and sprained my ankle terrible, because no matter what I had seen, I could not fly. I could not…fly…
I had my cowboy guns like Hoppalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers, and I went outside and put caps in my guns (my ammo) and shot the bad guys. All of us little kids did the same thing. It was our right to have our guns and imitate our heroes, wasn’t it? And so we did.
And the screens progressed. They got bigger. They went from black and white to living color. The “programming” became more complex. The news became an integral part of the screen.
I spent more time playing outside than a lot of kids. I spent a lot of time by myself playing, thinking, and formulating ideas. I read voraciously. The televisions screen was mostly a nighttime thing. My Dad limited our time watching it. It was a “privilege” and a lot of times that privilege was taken away as punishment for misbehaving. We weren’t allowed unlimited access. It was probably a good thing.
Throughout the years these information screens, whether you call them a television, a computer, a pad, a phone, whatever you might want to call them…these screens have come to do more and more of our thinking for us. They tell use what is “right or wrong”. They sway our opinions of other people and other things. This “social” media which has been created to play itself out in the virtual “over the screen” world, has come to be so influential, that “comments” and “posts” made using it, can make enemies of friend and family who we have known and loved all of our lives, while at the same time making us “friends” with people we have never known. Never has it been more apparent about this negative/positive media, then over the past year.
As I can continue to see hate and division spill across this screen, the TV screen, the phone screen, and any other type of screen that I look at, I begin to feel very tainted by it all. I want to divest myself totally from all of it….but continue to get pulled into the fray almost every time I look at a screen. It’s a powerful, almost irresistible pull.
I’m trying very hard, trying very hard. I’m devoting some time every day to reading, to thinking, to meditating, to praying. I hope to increase that time, and decrease this time. I hope to go back to mostly “family” kind of things like pictures and prayers, and sharing memories online. I hope I can do a “flip flop” and I also hope I can keep my attention away from the things which are divisive that are being posted by many, many people.
I may probably start tomorrow by keeping all my screens turned off, or at least keeping the sound turned down.
I have jumped off of the high porch again, and have found that I cannot fly…..I cannot fly…and I have hurt myself terribly…..
I leave you with the words of Paul Simon:
“and the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning,
In the words that it was forming
And the signs said,
“The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whisper’d in the sounds of silence”