What Did We Ever Do Before...
I'm becoming less and less interested in sitting at my computer, and more and more interested in playing music. This is being helped along some by technology. This morning, when I awoke and decided it probably was time to check my email, the static on my first floor line was so formidable as to render the line useless, and eventually, it went completely dead.
It took me half the day to realize I had another line in my bedroom upstairs, which was in fact completely fine, and so I hooked up for a bit to find a good tilapia recipe and check my mail.
Now, at 11 p.m., I'm sitting on my floor, listening to the boys from next door skateboard in the warm summer night. My kids are probably sound asleep after a long full day which we capped by watching Narnia. It was pretty much the only TV they had except for a bit while I got my shower.
This week yet another report was released about the effects of TV and other electronic entertainments on developing brains. The story is always the same; despite the mounting evidence that prolonged exposure to TV and other distractions changes the way young brains work, more and more Americans delegate hours that could be spent engaging their children to the Video Sitter. We ourselves spend hours in front of the computer, working, shopping, gaming, cherry picking our future mates out of an online scrapbook, looking up recipes for tilapia. We are a nation that has forgotten how to be with our kids, to be still, to be with ourselves, to be with each other, to be alone and think quietly, to be alone and make noise with an instrument, to unplug. We are allowing ourselves to be reprogrammed.
I didn't have access to my computer for a long while today because I believed I didn't have it. And of course I didn't need it. I haven't missed anything, really. My friends still called me, I planned a get together, the kids and I went to the park, I took them with me to a party at which we all had a blast, we came home and played outside more, then enjoyed the movie. The day was a whirlwind without TV, without video games, without much time spent in front of this screen.
At the same time I appreciate having this medium to share information, feelings, and observations about music. I wish I could invite more of you out there to comment. Nonetheless, it has a small way of helping me feel heard, not necessarily to be believed, but simply that the stuff I write about gets a wayward glance now and then.
In the old days, people played the music. People still do, like my friend Ed who graciously plays through tunes with me, which must be painful for someone who has been fiddling since he was 10. When we add a medium, like a Web site or a Podcast, we are not, and cannot, take another medium away, like listening to a field recording or learning a tune together. We have to play the music, talk about it, stream it, write about it, teach it one on one, extend ourselves beyond the electronic and yet use it to our every advantage.
The Digital Library of Appalachia is an example of this vision at its best. Media can preserve what we hold dear and therefore make it possible for us to share it with others, and with some of those others, the desire to know and hear and do more might catch on and a new practitioner is born.
It's a paradox for me. With fluffy pillow so closeby, maybe I'll just sleep on it. But I don't think things will change much. I'm a girl whose heart and ears are in the past but who lives now and for the future. It's got to all work together, or none of it will.