Books that Changed Me: “The Winter of Our Disconnect”

This is a book that I’ll probably end up buying someday. Most of the books that I take out of the library several times over a year end up being books that I buy. It was that way with “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” and with “Tiny Beautiful Things,” and with “How To Be Idle,” all books which I’ll likely write about in this new column, “Books that Changed Me.”

However, for now, being a student has meant curbing my usual spending, so thank goodness for the library.

Anyway. I first read “The Winter of Our Disconnect” before I got an iPhone. It’s really funny and easy to read, because Maushart has a down-to-earth tone. Yet it is also full of current, scary facts about how addicted we are to our devices. I remember thinking, “Man, this woman must have also been on crack! No-one gets that addicted to a phone.”

Then I got an iPhone myself.

And now I get it. I understand what it’s like to want to take the little device with me everywhere. To start panicking when I’m not sure where it is, even for a few minutes. To be addicted to the rush of tapping an app and seeing something cool happen, or new mail appear, or new photos on the Instagram feed. To think, “So what if it’s the first thing I want to do in the morning and the last thing I want to do before bed, I’m sure I could go without it if I had to.”

And it scares me. Yet, I’m not willing to give it up cold turkey. I like the connectivity, when I want it (although I don’t want it all the time). I feel like there must be some way to live in balance with it.

Yet I look around and I see so many of us on phones, looking at screens, clicking and tapping away. It’s a strange new world, for real. Even five years ago there was not this proliferation of mini handheld screen-worlds that we could take around wherever we went.

And now after reading this book, I think of screens and technology as a very addictive substance that we’ve just been introduced to, en masse, and we’re carried away by it. We may not even realize it’s so addictive.

Alcohol has been around for a long, long time, but it’s only recently that people have developed addiction therapy like Alcoholics Anonymous. Maybe it won’t take us as long to learn to engage with our technological habits, aware of what they do to us, to our families and to community, and to make responsible choices when it comes to the ubiquitous screen.

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2 Responses to Books that Changed Me: “The Winter of Our Disconnect”

  1. Aunt Bella says:

    Oddly, after another less than productive day, with a lot of screen time, this evening I thought to myself… this is like an very unsatisfying addiction. Then I saw your post. Ah, the things I would miss… if I were to pull the plug!

  2. Joe Green says:

    And coincidentally, posted a few days after your entry, I came across http://www.technologyreview.com/view/508561/im-going-back-to-my-dumb-phone-should-you

    5 years ago, no vast number of smartphones indeed. 20 years ago, no WWW at all. Ah such sweet innocent days. I remember when email was a novelty.

    Yes, still here, still checking in from time to time to catch up with your world.

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