So many confessions, so little time.
Hi, I’m Ann Garvin, and I like my screen time. Hear me out.
I like my screens, but I also enjoy quiet time walking my dog outside. I like to stare into space and read real books. I love talking to my neighbors, going to listen to music, eating dinner with friends. In-real-life time is awesome.
But, I text, write on my computer, tweet and watch TV a lot and I like it. I’m sorry, but I do.
Stay with me, I’m going to veer off a little.
I don’t want to throw away everything. Marie Kondo, I’m talking to you. I know I’m supposed to hug one of the many throw pillows I have and decide if it gives me joy, and I tried. Lord knows I tried. I embraced that pillow and I thought, it doesn’t NOT give me joy. I put it back on my couch that also doesn’t NOT give me joy, and I turned on the TV.
It’s a hectic place inside my head. I bet your head is just as busy. At the end of the day, TV helps me stop thinking things like:
- Now that my kids are out of the house, what is the use of me?
- How can I reduce my carbon footprint and not go overboard and become that lady who brings her own mason jars into Trader Joe’s?
- Is it okay to tell the man at the gas station that my name is Ann and to stop calling me Beth, or should I let sleeping dogs lie? Am I being a doormat?
- Which leads to this thought: Should I read that Crucial Conversations book that has been sitting on my bedside waiting to have a conversation with me, for a year?
Why am I going on about this?
I want to stop feeling bad about my screens.
I want my iPhone to stop reporting my screen time to me like screen time is porn, not good for us as a society, but especially young people. But, it’s not porn. And, maybe it isn’t terrible in all ways.”
Here’s what it is to me.
I watched the Modern Love episodes on Amazon Prime. After each episode, I leashed-up my dog, called my daughter, who lives in Minneapolis four hours away, and we talked about why it made us cry. We talked about the obvious reasons and the less obvious, more profound ideas, and we laughed at our similarities even though our stages in life are so dramatically different.
Then she and I watched Succession together and dreamed about what we would do with a million dollars. Why is a story about brutal money grubbers compelling? We talked about how sometimes the people we liked occasionally redeemed themselves. We talked about the people in our lives who did that aswell.
My other daughter Meghan called and asked if she could work with the Tall Poppy Writers and create a better Instagram experience for our readers. She came to PoppyCon (our annual meeting), and after the meeting, we watched funny videos she made on her phone. We read a bunch of funny tweets that had us laughing so hard, that Poppies joined us to see what we were doing.
My daughters and I have a good time with our devices. I don’t think the laughter is breaking our brains even if we are laughing at screens.
I know there are evils in our techie ways. But sometimes there is love and connection there too
Do my screens give me joy when I hug them? No, but my kids do, and sometimes those hugs are in person, and sometimes they are e-hugs.
I’ll take them both.
I’m so glad!!!!
Ann, I love your blog. It always makes me laugh and makes me think. I have a love-hate relationship with my screens, one that is veering toward love, or at least toward dependence, as in security and comfort. I have no kids or grandkids with whom to watch shows and compare notes, alas, but I have sibs scattered afar and one of them has health issues. Our text thread enables us to keep updates flowing. As I live in a location with poor cell service and frequent power outages, my neighbors and I communicate in emergencies, to invite each other to walks or dinner, or just to check in. As to your screen time monitor, ditch it. Does knowing that you spent three hours on Facebook and YouTube make you a better person, or just a guiltier one? I got a fit bit. It lasted about two months. I decided it wasn’t going to change my patterns of exercise enough to warrant a daily dose of guilt. Enjoy your screens for the comfort, delight and connection they offer you. All are hard enough to come by and important enough to cherish. Keep your stories coming, please.
Alice!! You totally get it. I hate guilt. I got rid of my fitbit too, for exactly the same reason. It’s all part of too much information that tells us we aren’t enough. We are though. Thank you so much for reading. xoxox
Screen time is the best way to reach my older two sons, especially the one 840 miles away.
Actually, my knowledge of certain programming on TV has paid off for me, literally.
If my TV watching made money I’d be sooo rich. Glad you understand though. 🙂 I knew you would.
Love this post! Yes, social media is my lifeline to my kids, and to the rest of the world most days (writers are such isolated creatures!). And yet technology has become so terrifying that my daughter has warned me to keep a Post-It note over the camera on my computer so creeps can’t ‘see’ me, and everything I google comes back to me in a hundred additional suggestions on every other social media platform. It used to be that we never went to the bathroom alone because we had kids (or cats), but the total lack of privacy is scary And yes, there’s such pressure to be more environmentally friendly (my daughter is a flexitarian, plastic hating, organic eater now), and to clear every bit of clutter (too hard—sadly, my writer’s brain is like a kitchen junk drawer that won’t close anymore). My kids complain that there’s no personal, real-life social connecting anymore, that there’s no way to meet friends. We’re connected all day everyday and yet we’re all so lonely. I’m considering a no-tech day once a week…unless there’s a text from my kid, or a quiz on Buzzfeed.
It’s all so much work isn’t it? I love this, “my writer’s brain is like a kitchen junk drawer that won’t close anymore”
That is the truth. I spend too much time doing things I don’t like that much so I let myself like a few things and try not to be judge-y. Thanks for understanding!!
Like the old saying…”everything in moderation”…I couldn’t earn a living without my technology. I love being able to video chat with my granddaughter every day. I have lived around the world and love that I can keep up with friends that are far. Fondness for these technologies does not preclude my love of being outdoors, visiting with friends ‘in-person’ or reading a good book!
Good post, Ann. Very thought-provoking.
Thank you Beth. I’m so glad you thought so and understand!!
I’m tired of apologizing for my screen-time. My kids, my doctors — why are they so relentless? I connect with those kids as well as those doctors through my devices, so what’s the problem? Eh. I’ll do what I want, for as long as I can. What they don’t know, right?
That’s exactly what I think. Enough is enough.
So much what I want to say but I wouldn’t have put it as brilliantly as you did. I’ll be saving this post Ann. I do everything on my phone and iPad from connecting with people through messaging, FB and Instagram, watching YouTube endlessly, reading my fave authors , banking, healthcare and tracking my damn weight . I am not ashamed. Thank you Ann!
Me either Barbara! Power to the people. I understand so many reasons that kids should talk to each other and not use Snapchat so much etc…but we get those same messages. Thanks for always being so positive. xox Ann
I love this. I am a tech-loving mother of four tech-loving daughters. I’ve gotten a lot of grief over the years about screen time for my kids, but do you know what? They’re fine. All of them. They really, truly are. Thank you for writing this.
You are very welcome!!!
I loved this musing! I have to say, do pick up and begin Crucial Conversations. I got a lot of amazing ideas from that book. And I am another who loves once in a while sitting and doing a mindless activity while watching some fun movie next to someone warm and wonderful (a dog, kitten, man, whomever).
Ann Garvin, I know you’re younger than me and today I feel the same age as you. You’ve touched a nerve I have with people not understanding that there is good and bad in everything around us–people, family, churches, schools, doctors and hospitals, and on and on. We can’t have it our way every time. There are those of us who, without our screens, would never hear or see our children living 2200 miles away from us. We have a new great-granddaughter arriving in January. No travel for us in winter any more, and they won’t want to travel any time soon. So the only way to see newborn pix? Instagram or cell phone. I’m with you I’ll take a hug or an e-hug anytime. It’s the love that warms my heart, however it reaches me. Love you!
I’m so glad you liked it. I feel the same, obviously. xoxoox
Ann, the great irony is that we are all racking up screen time which will be reported back to us as squandered life moments.
You just gave me the freedom to not care. We just ate Thanksgiving dinner. I called all the designated important relatives. Now it is post prandial nappy time,no one wants a heart to heart. We just enjoy being in the same room, sharing or not sharing our private moments with you.