Senior Musings May 2011

Posted 05.11.11

Our fragmented lives

BobbiDo you sometimes lose track of things? It's normal to misplace keys, forget where you left your reading glasses, or come home from the store without one of the ingredients for dinner.

This isn't anything to worry about; it's just the pace of life these days. Experts in memory loss tell us that it's not when you can't find your keys, but when you don't remember what the keys are for that you need to see a doctor.

I've spent the past several months working on a book with two other editors, one in Halifax and the other in Toronto. It's an anthology, with eighteen contributors from fourteen different locations, from the NWT to PEI. Juggling all this has absorbed most of my concentration, and I found myself misplacing more things than usual.

I still haven't found my black cardigan.

But when I sat down to figure out if I was, perhaps, trying to accomplish too much, I analyzed my daily activities, and was shocked to see the actual list.

I live alone, but go out two or three afternoons a week and an average of one evening. I record many TV programs I don't want to miss on my PVR, then skim them to catch the highlights I want to actually view. I also watch favorite programs when they're aired, if I'm home.

I read the Ottawa Citizen daily, but also read several other papers online, along with articles friends and colleagues pass on to me.

I receive hundreds of e-mails every day. I belong to six professional lists, including the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Cat Writers Association, and the Small Publishers Network, and many of those messages require an answer. I also hear from both of my sisters, a few other relatives and close friends who write frequently, and business contacts.

Yes, I'm on Facebook, but only check that once a week. And my cellphone is never turned on, as I use it only for emergencies. So the time I spend on e-mail, others spend on watching YouTube, keeping up with pals on Facebook or Twitter, or talking/texting on a phone. Our generation didn't grow up this way. We had a radio and one TV in the living room, which our parents controlled. Some of us had radios in our bedrooms, but that was a special privilege.

We had actual conversations over dinner, uninterrupted by cellphones or Blackberry alerts. Some evenings we sang around the piano or played board games.

We played outside after supper!

I worry about today's children, all of whom seem to have earbuds in their ears, blasting loud music, or cellphones commanding their attention. Computers in their rooms are used for homework some of the time, but also for continual monitoring of Facebook and viewing YouTube videos.

What effect does this continual stimulation have on their brains?

Recent U.S. studies claim that college (i.e. university) students are not learning very much during four years of attending classes at expensive institutions. It seems they're too busy "socializing," made much easier by the decision to allow computers in the classroom. Are they taking notes or checking Facebook?

I'm all for new technology. But let's not let it take over our lives to the exclusion of live interaction with people.

And if you find my black cardigan, please let me know. *** The anthology Bobbi has been working on is called Prose to Go. Read about it on her website, at: www.SimonTeakettle.com/prosetogo.htm.

E-mail Bobbi at BFG@SimonTeakettle.com, and don't forget to read Simon Teakettle's blog, at www.SimonTeakettle.com/terzoblog11.htm

Copyright © 2011 Barbara Florio Graham/Log Cabin Chronicles/05.11