Yesterday was National Book Day, and it made me realize how few books I have read recently. I’m a huge Stephen King fan and have read maybe five of his novels, and should probably pick up a few more. I’m still reading “Atonement”, will probably reread “Once a Runner” when I’m training again, and have a couple books by Albert Camus that are waiting patiently on my bookshelf.
Regardless of how many books I have right now to read or what genre they fall into, my most profound realization yesterday on National Book Day was the fact that I knew what day it was because I was in a coffee shop staring at my phone. I didn’t read anywhere that it was a day to be celebrating books, I had forgotten my book at home (it might take me a few months to finish this one), and I was facing my open computer screen staring at the phone in my hand. Ouch.
My generation had the privilege, and responsibility, of learning how to incorporate smart phones and social media into our lives before it was commonly understood and accepted. The generation before us has either caught on or still lives in avoidance, and the generation after us plays alphabet games on the family iPad as infants. I wasn’t given a cellphone until I was a freshman in high school, and didn’t have a smartphone until I was a senior. I made a Facebook freshman year after I got my LG flip phone and posted so many regrettable statues (didn’t we all). Learning how to have numerous social media accounts as a high school and college student, and then as a collegiate athlete, is challenging and sometimes stressful. Validation through likes and favorites is such a reality in today’s society it’s astounding. The “rules” and tricks of posting the perfect Instagram with the right filter and best caption at the time of day that will yield the most likes is something that took me a long time to grasp, and I’m probably still doing it wrong..? My tweets aren’t funny, I keep Facebook for my family, I forgot my Pinterest password, and I’m really good at Snapchatting half of my face or my feet.
I’m very much attached to my phone and it makes me sad. I get sucked into updating my feeds to see what people are up to or the next latest trend, it’s out of boredom, it’s a procrastination tool, it’s habitual. I know I’m not the only one. The last few weeks of having excess downtime has seen a huge increase in my screen time and for the next few weeks, I want to make an effort to change that. I do want to finish my book, I want to read more over this summer, take naps, go on walks, leave my phone at home. Rarely is there a text or snap so important that it can’t wait 30 extra minutes, Instagram will be there when I get back, and I believe in the power of knowledge that is reading books. Smartphones and social media are both tools that have radically changed our society and world, arguably for the better and sometimes for the worse, but books aren’t dead. Authors still exist and bookstores typically have coffee shops, and that’s basically the perfect set up. Keep reading books!
In the words of Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane, “feed your head.”