Thoughts on a Thursday: Stuck With One Foot in the Past and One Foot in the Present

I have been mulling over what happen last year. I read less than I ever have in whole life. It was a difficult year on many fronts. Friends had major health issues. Family was overwhelming busy. Husband changed jobs after 17 years. I had some major healthy living changes which did not come easily. Kids were sick and injured a ton. I am not listing these for sympathy but to talk about why in a year that should have been filled with the need/desire to escape, did I only read 32 books? Books have been for years my escape. The go-to when everything else got hard. But this year I could not/did not read. Why?

Well in thinking it over, I have decided it has come down to two things.

These two electronic devices have taken over.

 cellphone  tablet


These are my go to now for escape. I honestly thought that having a tablet (I had a Nook until it died mid-year) would allow me to read more and in more places. What I have found out is that it also allows me to do a lot of things that are not reading. With both of these at arms reach 24/7 I found it easier to text, IM, Facebook, play games and do all kinds of things that are equally escapist but also require even less brain power. In other words, when everything else got too hard I chose brain-numbingly easy as my escape.

This resulted in a feedback cycle. The more digital I got the easier it was to do. The more digital I got the harder it was to focus and read. I wondered if this was just me or if there is research other there to support what I was thinking. (Yes I am a social scientist to my core.) It turns out that there is. It is not just me, but a whole generation of people who are going to find it difficult to focus. (You can find a collection of articles from the New York Times here.)

I am trying to not beat myself up over it. But I do want to return to my first and best love. So this year I am leaving the tablet home more and carrying old school books. I am leaving my phone in another room when I read in hopes that my natural lazy tendencies will mean I will only go retrieve it if it makes noise. I have turned all notifications off except text and actual calls (school aged kids means these are necessary). And in case you are interested the younger people in my house now have screen time limits as well. This is not go over well with the teen and tween. But here is to hoping for some balance for us all.

Cheers to a new year and new habits.

photo credit cellphone: Insert Magazine via photopin cc
photo credit tablet: jgoge via photopin cc