I changed the channel.
I’d been watching Learner Dad gaze at his phone for the past seven minutes.
He clearly wasn’t watching the footy.
Knowing it to be true, he didn’t complain.
When I couldn’t find anything interesting to watch on TV, I picked up my book.
Several minutes later, I noticed Learner Dad staring at me.
“What?” I asked.
“Can’t seem to get your head out of it,” he replied.
“What? My book? What’s wrong with that?”
“What’s wrong with looking at my phone?”
“Oh come on, a book is different.”
“I’m using my imagination. I’m READING.”
“That’s exactly what I’m doing on my phone. I’m imagining what people are doing by READING their tweets.”
I thought about it.
Was he right?
Could a phone possibly count as an intellectual pastime?
I’d always felt far superior curled up in bed with the latest from book club while Learner Dad lay next to me scrolling aimlessly through Facebook.
“I’m not ruining my eyes though,” I blurted out desperately.
“How do you know? People were wearing glasses long before iPhones came along.”
I’ve ranted on here about my disdain for gadgets before.
While I still pester Learner Dad about burying his nose in his phone in front of the boys, I’ve become accustomed to his little pocket mistress.
But are smartphones really, well, smart?
Let’s look at it from his perspective:
– He is indeed reading
– He is also socialising
– And he is keeping abreast of world news
Now let’s look at it from mine:
– The ‘reading’ consists of a random string of abbreviations and symbols with no punctuation.
– How can it be ‘social’ when he’s oblivious to the physical goings on around him?
– And does Kim Kardashian’s new baby count as real ‘world news’? (Don’t play dumb Learner Dad, you excitedly told me this bit of news the moment you read it)
Now let’s look at it more deeply:
– Maybe this online lingo isn’t a dumbed down version of English but just a modern one? Isn’t language always changing? And the number of characters to a Tweet may be limited, but then so are the number of lines to a sonnet. Who’s to say tweets aren’t poetry?
– Learner Dad is socialising with dozens of people every night from the comfort of his fluffy socks and disastrous tracksuit. All while I lose myself in trash like Law and Order. Perhaps watching telly and reading books is more antisocial?
– Is the state of affairs in Syria more valid world news than the birth of a celebrity baby? Of course it is but I’d say that and then go bury my face in New Idea.
I’m not sure I’ll ever embrace gadgets.
Because while ever Learner Dad has one, he’s not totally concentrated on me.
He’s reading about and socialising with all the people I compete with on a nightly basis for his attention.
To me, iPhones mean distracted conversation, private jokes and one-handed foot rubs.
But, with a phone fanatic hubby and two young boys, I can’t resist the iTrain forever.
I mean, won’t I be texting, tweeting and cyberstalking my teenage sons in years to come?
Yes, I believe I will be.
And then it’ll be the pot calling the kettle black.
Or the reader telling the Tweeter to get a life.
Having said all this, I still can’t see myself one day smiling fondly around the dinner table at the three men in my life, faces glued to iPhones, as they ‘read’, ‘socialise’ and ‘catch up on the news’ while tucking into the lasagne I spent all afternoon making.
But then maybe I won’t notice.
Because maybe, having long given up on competing with electronic gadgets, I’ll have my own face buried in a damn good book.
I changed the channel.