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on screens and creatures

This morning, I awoke to the first really warm morning in D.C. I played quiet music from my phone as I slowly made my breakfast and coffee. I was pleased with my combination of strawberries and granola and yogurt. I slipped a slice of lemon into my ice water and sat down at the kitchen table to read a book I am VERY much enjoying. I sipped my iced coffee with cinnamon, honey and oat milk as I read and breathed in the open window. Then - opened my laptop out of instinct to check email and social media, even though I hadn’t slated in my google calendar to start working for another hour and wasn’t particularly craving anything I didn’t already have. But here I was, starting my dive into the internet earlier than I wanted to.


Later that day, after working was over, we decided to pack up some snacks and shandies and a blanket and sit in our apartment building’s courtyard. It’s entirely transitioned to spring here, and everything is in full vital blossom. The grass was soft and cool and even though it was a hot day there was a whisper of a breeze on my skin. I would read a few pages of my book and would then look up to observe the utter pleasantness around me. My partner quietly reading next to me and the gentle movement of the courtyard. I saw squirrels chasing each other and insects buzzing around us, swallows swooping high above the tree line. It strikes me that I so often see myself as a person in outdoor spaces, a person who is separate from the ecosystem of wildlife around me. But at this moment I am blissfully aware that I am one of the creatures in the courtyard, moving naturally through my world.


Again, I wanted for nothing in this moment, but mindlessly grabbed my phone to check Instagram, my email, Facebook. Multiple times. It was noisy and generally did not make me feel connected to anything in particular. Waves of anxiety, envy, anger, exasperation. I wasn’t getting anything from it. Being on a screen was making my experience actively worse. I didn’t want to be there, but picked up my phone multiple times in the midst of the hour or two we spent outside, knowing there was nothing for me there.

I understand what makes me pick up my phone when I am feeling anxious or awkward, but what pulls us to screens even when the real tangible raw world is so delightful? I suppose it’s possible that because technology feels so muted emotionally to me that the real world feels almost overwhelming. Maybe that's what I am addicted to - relief from the sensation of being alive, which is sometimes just too much to bear, especially when it’s bad, but also when it’s deliciously and fleetingly good.


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