A Life On Screens

I asked my Father today if he remembered life before television.  He said he did, and it was a world where a lot of people read books and newspapers, played games and got together with friends and a barrel of beer.

The reason I asked is because I realize that since the invention of TV, and people watching hours a day, we’ve now become a society that lives on screens.  I wake up to my iPhone and iPad.  I read the iPad with coffee, then off to a computer where I work editing photographs and marketing photography.

Or I have a photo shoot, and I make the photographs and check them on the camera’s screen.  Finally, import them to the computer for editing tomorrow.

I wrap up the day, and it’s back to the iPad.  Or I write at night, like this post here, on my laptop either at a pub or at home.

I’m not a TV watcher, but if I were, I would probably switch that on when I got done writing, and finish up the day with an iPad in bed.

What happened to us?  We live on screens.

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I think that’s why I’m drawn to film photography–I get to create with a simple ground glass for viewing the image (on a 4×5 or 8×10 view camera, a Rolleiflex or a Leica 35mm).  It has no electronics.  It’s physical, just light being focused onto film.

Same with hand-printing photographs in a darkroom, it’s hands on, and nothing electronic to it.

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I’m betting that’s why some people like gardening (I am not one of those people) but it gives them the chance to work with their hands and dirt to create something beautiful.  Can’t get more “down to earth” than that!

Same thing with nature lovers and landscape photographers (I am not one of those either).  Staring at the sky and trees is a welcome past-time in this digitally screened-in world.

Anyway, I wonder what all these screens, with living in a screen world, is doing to us, how it’s affecting our culture, our friendships, our lives.

Are we better off than 80 years ago, when all we needed were friends and a barrel of beer?kids1 (2)

7 thoughts on “A Life On Screens

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  1. Well, to take another view, I think we may be better off now than we were eighty years ago. If information seems preferable to mere conversation, the internet provides abundant information that would be more difficult to access without the screens. Part of the question is how reliable is the information, but reliability was always a potential problem before information on screens was available. Part of the appeal of the internet is, that like conversation, it is interactive. Besides, none of these activities are mutually exclusive. There are now more opportunities for information and activities than ever before.


    1. But more “news” has made us more afraid, because it’s ultimately bad news. More suspicious of each other, more worried about danger in the street, when we are safer now than we’ve been in years. But the information being constantly piped in, that makes it hard to feel safe. There’s something about talking to you and saying this, rather than typing it, which I would rather be doing over a beer somewhere, Merlin!


      1. Well, again, to take another tack, that seems somewhat negative and cynical and maybe even a little paranoid. The problem is not just the news but the reliability of the news and the nature of the news and our reactions to the news. Bad news, reliable or not, is difficult to process and often engenders fear. And fear engenders distrust and dislike and hate. Heated conversations can result in physical violence. On a national scale, can result in civil disruption. On an international scale, can result in war. One hopes reason triumphs over fear. I do agree with your last sentence. Kinda hard to share a beer (🍻) over screens.


  2. See this: https://www.amazon.com/Selling-Fear-Counterterrorism-American-Politics/dp/0226567192 – While we’ve long known that the strategies of terrorism rely heavily on media coverage of attacks, Selling Fear is the first detailed look at the role played by media in counterterrorism—and the ways that, in the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration manipulated coverage to maintain a climate of fear.

    I don’t think that is as cynical as it is capitalistic. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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