You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” Ray Bradbury

Mr. Bradbury envisioned a world in which exercise and busyness had replaced reading and thought. I watch the news and think, “maybe he wasn’t far off.”  The difference is, instead of replacing reading with physical activity, we’ve replaced it with technology. In

Montag meets modern media

Fahrenheit 451, the people are constantly moving, going, doing, faster and faster but dealing only in trivialities, never spending a moment on connection or critical thought. Today, people spend an inordinate amount of time with earbuds in their ears, fingers twitching over instant conversations or thumbing the controls of mindless electronic violence. Attention spans and tempers shorten. Fights have become entertainment at our local high schools – disrespect and work avoidance, badges of coolness.

Public education has become a test driven teacher accountability machine, while schools founder and politicians spout diatribes about “teacher responsibility for student achievement.”   It seems ironic to me that only a decade or three ago, the student’s achievement was his own responsibility.

We recently watched an old video about, of all things, having dinner as a family. It recommended cordiality, good manners and consideration for others as top priorities in relating to family members. My students watched, almost wistfully, as the family sat down to eat together –

and talked.

There was no TV to watch, no iPod plugged ears and no one had a cell phone or PS3 in hand.

Is it maudlin or weird that I found the whole scenario attractive? Don’t get me wrong, I have no desire for a return to the decade of  poodle skirts and the DAs. We’ve done some great things in the last 60+ years. Technology, civil rights, feminism and alternative energy have all made tidy leaps in the right direction. But we’ve managed to lose a fair amount of innocence along the way too. And that strikes me as incredibly sad.

Happy…and thoughtful…writing.

(plus, many thanks to and Google images for the cartoon)


2 thoughts on “Nostalgia Rag, sort of

  1. I am incredibly thankful for technology and how it has connected me with people all over the world that I can help or encourage or have community with as it relates to our chronic illness. But I also long for the days when I could have a face-to-face conversation or meal with a person who was not also flipping through an app on their iphone or shhh-ing me so they can hear the TV. I think we all need regular technology fasts to reconnect with people in our lives or just quietly read a good book.


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