Micro Giant

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Earlier today, as I was attempting to video a particularly adorable little one, my phone froze. It would not budge. It refused even to turn off. Total strike. When it finally relented, responded, and restarted, it claimed that the MicroSD card that had lain securely in its innards, accumulating goodies, was “blank or has unsupported files.” Gulp!

Removing and remounting the tiny tech did nada. Restarting again? Zilch. Thousands of photos, videos, music and docs – more than 27 Gigabytes’ worth – gone! Some are backed up, perhaps, someplace. Many? Who knows.

I breathed. I zoomed through the phases of grief. I put the phone away. I fed the toddler some fruit. We both had a sip (and spill) of water. We chased dogs, a little boy with a ball, an ant, and three pigeons.

Back home, I tried to view Micro (it felt right to name it, after it turned my day on its head) on the computer. No luck. Not only did my laptop refuse to load the card’s info, it would not even acknowledge that Micro existed. To add insult to injury, Micro’s ordeal somehow managed to keep it invisible even as it shut down the whole card-reader drive so it would not read any other memory cards, either. Micro had suffered Total Amnesia With Driver-Scrambling Influences.

Even according to the normally super helpful remote-‘hijackers’ of computers, the poor data that had lived on Micro, is to be presumed evaporated. Oh, my phone returned to work deceptively fine. The contacts are intact. So are any WhatsApp images (normally so infuriatingly immune to living anyplace but the prime real-estate of internal storage, and now more snobbish than ever, being the only ones to have survived). It is the photos I’d taken myself, the videos I’d shot, the files I’d stored, the music I’d downloaded, that have disappeared into the abyss. Whatever caused this massive ‘phone syncope,’ it damaged only the deceptively giant brain of my little Micro, but by all accounts it did so spectacularly!

So here I am, a bit disoriented and feeling a touch of loss and more than a bit bewildered. I can’t help but worry that whatever had caused the irreversible amnesia might pay a return visit, especially as the culprit remains unexplained (and unrecoverable). It doesn’t help that certified geeks spent hours trying to figure out how one scrambled Micro-SD managed to make other cards not be readable just by association, and continued to do so even after repairs, rebuilds, refresh, and the odd time-travel of restore.

Being prone to seeing synchronicity as messaging, I’m wondering if today’s drama is a metaphor for the contagion of energy and chaos. So timely with the current snags and ripples in the fabric of memory and history.

Adieu, photos. Adieu, videos. Adieu, all manner of notes. I remember some of you very fondly. I admit to not quite knowing what many of you were. I will miss you all, anyway.

One day (soon, if Murphy has a say in it, which he tends to in such cases), I might find myself looking for an image or a file that I just know I had ‘someplace’, only to realize that it was probably part of today’s giant exodus.

In the meanwhile, I hope this data-crater becomes an opening to new energies and an invitation for new memories on Micro-The-Second. I choose to view this as (yet another) lesson into the temporary yet indelible existence of every moment, be it captured into tangible memory or not.

For the One Word Sunday Challenge: Giant

Interconnected

phones Etsy

Photo: Etsy

 

“She has a symbiotic relationship with that phone,” the mother complained, eyebrows raised and head tipped in the direction of her daughter.

The pre-teen (on cue) rolled her eyes without lifting them from her opposing thumbs and the aforementioned item’s screen.

“See?!” the mom announced, vindicated.

“Whatever,” the girl sighed in the tone dedicated to oldsters who cannot possibly understand the nuances and necessities of modern life. She placed her phone face-down on the desk and turned her head to her mother. “Happy now?”

The mom nodded, half-mollified, half-mortified.

The lass-with-sass turned to me. “She keeps on me for that phone but she’s the one who’s always on the phone.”

“It’s work stuff,” the mother defended, reddening. Her own ‘lifeline’ already half-way out of her purse.

“Mine’s school stuff,” the girl countered. Her eyebrows rose in victory, a mirror image of her mother’s.

I smiled at their banter. It was a well-rehearsed dance, a sparring of connection more than true conflict.

“Funny thing …” I pulled out the work I had planned for our session that day: a passage and discussion about symbiosis, the close and often long-term interaction between two different species …

 

 

For The Daily Post

Stuck on

He won’t let her have a quiet cup of coffee.

He won’t let her sleep.

He needs her when she bathes

Or pees.

He whines during any of her conversations

Cares little for her schedule

Her meetings

Her needs.

He requires constant attention

Won’t be left alone

Must come along.

That phone.

 

phone-getty-images

 

 

For The Daily Post

 

 

Kids and Screen Time: Data, Reality, and Possibility

ScreenTime

When I grew up, television was a very small part of daily life, and was the only screen in the house. Telephone conversations were usually brief (and attached to the wall through the cord in the main room of the house, they only allowed limited privacy). Most daily interactions were face-to-face. Social interaction with peers and siblings certainly were face to face.

Now most homes in developed countries have several screens in different configurations: TVs, laptops, computers, tablets, phones, game consoles, DVD players, other interactive toys that come with a screen.

Children spend a lot more time facing a screen than they ever did. What is the impact of that?

Like every tool, screen media is neither good nor bad–it is HOW you used it and HOW MUCH you used it and what it DISPLACES that matters.

In this electronic age, children have more access to more education materials in quicker and more convenient ways than ever before. Media and information are powerful, but not neutral: If not taught how to discern information on the web, children do not learn how to conduct research or pick out primary source or secondary source, how to identify fact from biased blog or a complete fallacy. They may believe everything they read online–both truth and blatant misrepresentations. They need to be taught how to use information, how to cross-check, how to learn.

Education with the use of screens has replaced some of the methods of learning that were used in not-too-long-ago times. They have benefits and limitations. They can replace some older methods of research and increase efficiency and effectiveness of learning. They can connect people from far places to work together. They can bridge over differences and stigmas. However, they can also displace the interactive collaboration of listening, analyzing other people’s opinions and views, and working together interactively in real space (rather than over the internet in shared documents or through ‘attachments’ or searching to copy other people’s reports through google …).

Outside of educational screen time (i.e. the time children spend watching screens for learning, whether formal or informal), there are also the many hours a week that children spend playing or gazing at movies or music videos, or in texting incomplete sentences in stunted spelling to their friends on social media or phones. These hours often displace actual face-to-face interactions and all that comes with them: reading social cues, body language, emotions, tone of voice. Electronic communication is a poor substitute to actual interaction. Emoticons are a very crude representation of people’s facial expressions, and while they can lend ‘color’ to a message, they are not the real deal.

Children who spend too many hours staring at screens spend too few hours interacting with others and learning skills for interpersonal communication, for reading other people’s emotions and body language, for taking turns and listening.

In an article on NPR, about “Kids and Screen time–what does the research say”, researchers found that removing screen time (and effectively, the replacing of that back with social interaction and TALKING TO EACH OTHER and engaging with others), helped children be more able to recognize facial expressions. The benefits were significant even after five days of no screen time.

While some people advocate total electronics removal … I am not an advocate of removing all electronics: we live in a time where media and internet, email and web searches are enormous tools. It would be a form of social isolation to cut children off from the ability to interact with the world. However, it can be unhelpful to have too much screen time, as it displaces other kinds of social engagement that are just as important. Children do not know what they are missing when they stare at screens instead of interact with people–it is our job and responsibility as adults to help them learn to communicate and socialize.

Infants learn how to interact, how to engage, how to interpret communication and intent–through facial expression and through immediate dyadic interaction in many different settings over many interactions. It is a learning that continues throughout childhood and into young adulthood (and some may say, throughout the lifespan). We need to be mindful of not displacing personal interaction with screen time.

It is possible to do both–though that calls for moderation and boundaries (things that children need to learn, anyway). Additionally, it needs to be not only the children … adults who spend all their times staring at a little screen are displacing time of interaction WITH their children and are becoming models for what we do not want to reinforce.

There is no one recipe that would work for everyone–the right balance is different for different people at different times. What does make sense to me, is to be mindful and be honest:

  • Do not demand of your children something you do not follow yourself …

* Create windows of time when screens are not used in your home: a ‘curfew’ time for phones, or an evening a week without any electronics, a ‘no virtual communication’ weekend day, maybe decide on no electronics in mealtimes (basic politeness, that …), or on other ways to limit screen time. For everyone.

  • Make sure that you are a good model for turning off electronics and doing more than just lifting your eyes momentarily from one …

Young children, especially, are vulnerable to not developing what they SHOULD be developing. If their little faces are stuck to a screen rather than interested in another person, and if their interactions are the brief raising of eyes (or the parent’s brief raising of eyes) from a screen to nod or follow a direction; they would not learn how to engage well, they would not know to be good communicators, or listeners, or readers of social gestures, facial expressions, body-language, and signs.

This is not an either/or. Electronics and screen time, interpersonal social time: It can be an and/and, but it needs to be mindful, lest we raise a generation of children who do not how to interact … and fail them by not providing them the opportunities they needed to learn.

To read the article: “Kids and Screen Time–what does the research say” on NPR, click on the title, or click below:

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/28/343735856/kids-and-screen-time-what-does-the-research-say

Time Travel …

Just for fun, now that the weather is working on being presentable and the outdoors will call with sun and blue sky: a little look on how people got going in such times gone by.
Here is the family circa 1910 and out for a ride… (she with ‘side-saddle’ seat, of course, lest propriety be harmed …)–and then there’s the ‘baby carrier’ all snug as bug in a rug in the back … (complete with pergola to keep out the sun but not much in the way of keeping the babe in if the bike goes down …)

baby 'car' seat

 

Prefer to go ‘natural’? There’s an option for that … Just not sure you will get very far or too fast before you’re in the dust …

ostrich cab

 

Think a bike is too risky and skirts may snag up to reveal an ankle or (gasp) a well stockinged calf? No worries–there’s technology to harness, 1916 a cutting edge craft.

scooter gal

 

Hail a cab? Not a problem. London upped its own game, and in 1907, taxies happily came.

taxi1907

 

Want to live on the road? Sure–that’s swell. Mobil home to the rescue, chimney and awning as well.

mobil home

 

Fast forward a bit. It’s the 1950 and the family’s grown … There are three now to take along … (okay, it is not the same family, but the concept is shown …). Big improvement from high-wheels, better balance on bikes and no more side-saddle for mom (Victorians would blanch at the thighs on display, but how they paddled one legged puzzles me to this day …).

cycling family

So … by bike (or an ostrich?), by scooter or bus, by taxi or stroller or RV or a hike–get your gear up and ready and plan some fun routes: there’s a world worth exploring, and many venues to use …