Exactly Two Minutes

No, this is not the story of my sex life.  This is an NPR Perspectives I did about the Age of the Screen.  It aired this morning on the West Coast.   I’ve done a couple of them for NPR before, but what came out this time was creepy—inspired by Steve Jobs’ death.  I sent it to Mark Trautwein, editor for KQED Perspectives.  He’s an amazing man by the way—you should check out his New York Times article if you get a chance. 

To my surprise, Mark gave this piece the green light, so here it is-exactly two minutes out of your busy life.  Put in your earbuds, click on the audio link (the yellow arrow above my pic) and let me whisper in your ear.  

Listen here.

Then answer me this:  Is The Screen a blessing or a curse?



NOTE: This blog is usually about funny stuff, but I make exceptions for Saving Humankind.

About bestbathroombooks

I run a small publishing company and am presently seeking the funniest, coolest and most marketable ideas to sell in places like Urban Outfitters, Papyrus, college bookstores and independent bookstores in the Humor Sections. Contact me through this blog or better at www.bestbathroombooks.com. There are some talented people out there writing good, funny, conceptual books and blogging some funny stuff. I wish I had time to read more and write more. I have a day gig and do a lot of other things, but blogging helps me stay connected to my laptop and ensures sterility (due to EMF on my testicles) which is great because I've had enough kids. Les
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20 Responses to Exactly Two Minutes

  1. squiznit says:

    well written
    and funny

  2. Good screen. Nice screen. Precioussss.

  3. speaker7 says:

    I like how you read about something that is really kind of terrifying in a very calm, serene voice. Your piece reminds me of a recent article I read about how more than half of young people surveyed said they cannot live without the internet, and one in three found it as vital as air, water and food.

    • Thanks, S7, Sometimes I get serious but I try to keep it off this blog. Yeah, I was going for HAL in 2001: A Space Oddyssey. You, of course, nailed it exactly. All I’m asking for is the kids get at least ten minutes of eye contact a day with another human!

  4. afrankangle says:

    Excellent perspective about life. And even as technologies change, The Screen will still be the gateway.

  5. So, Frank, blessing, curse or both?

  6. Todd Erler says:

    Well… I read recently that Facebook was Satan’s pathway…. So curse, I guess. : )

  7. John Erickson says:

    The Screen is like a gun, though infinitely more addictive. It can be a tool for good, capturing food (information), keeping us safe (marking our paths), or giving us recreation by target-shooting (video games). It can also seduce us with easy pleasures like reality TV (random vandalism), power (as a weapon in a crime), it can even end our lives by sublimating our desires to its’ needs (killing people).
    Technology is, and always has been, neutral. A hammer can build a house or smash a window. Fire can cook our food or burn our house down. It is how WE use it, it is OUR fingers on the controls (trigger) that determine whether the Screen will be bane or boon, richness or ruin, growing and expanding knowledge or withering into ignorance.
    We CAN look beyond the screen. We MUST look beyond the screen. Or one day, there will be no more us, just the Screen.
    Great article!

    • John–
      I like your answer, though I’m not sure…are you saying that a gun/hammer doesn’t seduce but the screen does? That’s kinda my point. A gun can end your life in an instant, the screen might just end mankind in a few hundred years.

      • John Erickson says:

        Guns can very much seduce – I’ve known people who have collected HUNDREDS, and they’re not crazy survivalist types. I’ve also known people who seem addicted to constructing things – half the furniture in the room I’m sitting in was built by my father, even though we had the money to buy stuff pre-built. Could hammers destroy society? Probably not, but I was just looking at neutral tools. Could guns destroy our society? Well, hit the Earth with a Coronal Mass Ejection (“sunspot storm”), knock out all our electricity and electronics, and I bet the people who have generators or hand-powered devices will have guns, either for protection or because they stole the devices from someone without a gun. (Sorry to sound a little … “whackjob” … there. 🙂 )
        My main point was that we don’t HAVE to stare at the screen. We CAN choose to switch it off and go read a book, feed our fireplace (guilty!), or sit down with pen and paper to design an armed automobile to shoot it out with other folks in an arena.
        Doesn’t EVERYBODY play “Car Wars”?
        (Sigh.) Guess the screen got here before me. 😉

  8. You make great points. Guns and screens both are tools. But I don’t see as many people handing their two year old a gun to get them to shut up (of course, I don’t live in Arkansas).

  9. That was great. Moving. I comfort myself with the fact that I legislate a few screen-free weeks per year in my house, to remind my kids of the rest of the world. But the fact that I find a few weeks of real life a comfort is actually pretty scary.

  10. The fact that you make the effort to look away is wonderful. You’re giving your kids a gift.

  11. Angie Z. says:

    This was fantastic, Les. I loved it, though it gave me a dark, sinking feeling. We don’t have cable, my cell phone was made in the ’90s and I don’t know how to send a text message (though my husband does have an iphone for his job). So no endless screens for us. (Oh, oops, I forgot about blogging.) I know it’s inevitable for my kids’ generation however.

    Once again, I’m throwing my philosophy studies at you. All of this reminds me of the Allegory of the Cave — in Plato’s The Republic, Socrates tells about people who sit chained inside a cave and become consumed with watching shadows on the walls for hours upon hours until they’ve lost all sense of reality. Totally freaky-prophetic. Here is a short synopsis if you want to get some giant goosebumps: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave

  12. Such a point-on reference. Totally prophetic. Sorry to bum you out! The whole thing is scary, and I applaud your “off the grid” efforts. It sounds like your kids won’t just be staring at the shadows. We’ll need some of those to be the leaders out of the cave.

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