If we imagine that the fate of our times hangs upon our efforts, we’ll deceive ourselves and miss out on the goods and pleasures that are at hand waiting to be enjoyed, even now.
It’s not perhaps that the world doesn’t need change, but that as anti-Machine author Paul Kingsnorth put it in these pages, “the first work is changing yourself.” We have to live where we’re placed, and for Eve at the Meat and Malt, right now that means continuing to serve the guests who entreat her for sustenance, despite the intrusion of the impersonal into her hospitality.
Unaware, we can stand in a museum, in a temple of modernity that extracts life from all other temples. We can gaze into the vengeful gift of a god while that god stands right behind us, unseen, not believed in, multiplying his box of miseries into every pocket in the museum and beyond.
I wish environmentalists would better understand that there are no mustache-twirling billionaires drilling and digging and burning oil just for the hell and the money of it. Like money, petroleum is a very effective way to get the things we all want at the best convenience. And those in the oil industry are simply happy to oblige us and profit by their labors.
Tabletop games put something in our twitchy, swipe-hungry fingers other than a digital device—a hand of cards, a pair of dice, a plastic Zeus. And since others have put down their phones too, we can look out over those cards into a human face, a present human face.
I did some research with the help of a “dumb phone finder” which told me the functions, network compatibilities, and reviews of the available flip phones and other simplicity-oriented devices. I identified one that was an acceptable price, was still able to run one or two of the apps that I actually do need, and was compatible with my network (or so I thought).
It is not solely (or perhaps even primarily) about there being more hours of work and therefore less time for reading. It is about the possibility of work hovering over every moment of supposed leisure. For me, that is the fundamental distraction, not TikTok. So yes, smartphones are the problem.
Barba-Kay argues that we tend to resolve our cognitive dissonance by outsourcing all the choices that do matter and consoling ourselves with a plethora of choices that don't.
This trend is peaking in a small rectangle, the smartphone. As Marc Barnes observes, the smartphone has replaced the TV. The smartphone is portable and personal and has enticed us to enjoy our shows in our private rooms. The ubiquity of the smartphone is an artifact of our own loneliness.
Babbitt and More advocated the study of the humanities as a tool for the shaping of human souls toward virtue, helping confront what Babbitt characterized as the “civil war of the cave” that occurs in every human heart. Babbitt and More’s roughly forty-year friendship produced scores of letters that take the reader from the late nineteenth century into the 1930s.