“Don’t sit so close! You’ll ruin your eyes!”
My worrisome mother often shouted from across the room, frustrated by her child’s growing infatuation with the images pouring out of our living-room tube TV.
Television was reviled on one side of our family. My grandparents only let me watch baseball and McGee & Me, a Christian home video series. Viewed as the source of all our misgivings, TV subverts a good Christian life. A sinful teacher. A device with unchecked access to my newly forming neural connections.
But I will forever defend the television, for its many faults, it still welcomes groups to sit together and focus attention. If not on each other, then at least on an agreed point. A movie, show, or nothing in particular. We focused together.
That’s not as viable with our pocket screens.
Our smartphones are highly personal and personalized; downright magical, you might say. But looking over someone’s shoulder as they scroll through their feed is met with a bristling self-consciousness.
I think this is a problem.