Reblog of Merianna Harrelson: The Screen Between

Reblog via Merianna Harrelson

Fifteen years ago, when I pursuing a Master’s in Literacy, we wondered and pondered about the impact of screens for readers. We questioned and discussed how literacy needed to be taught differently because of the availability of so much content and with so much reading occurring on a screen. I attended and participated in professional developments centered around “the screen between.” We discussed and debated how the screen between eliminated so many of the social cues and nonverbal communication that takes place between two people in person in conversations and in classrooms.

These discussions were way before so many people had a handheld device with a screen that fit in their pocket. Now as a minister, I find myself in conversations and debates about that same “screen between,” and how emboldened people feel to type something in a comment thread or text that they would never say to a person’s face.

And that’s just it. We don’t see each other anymore. The screen between us disconnects us from our joint humanity even as it advertises more connections and connetions from around the world.

As I have tried to be more intentional about my own use of screens, especially around our infant, I’ve noticed just how prevalent screens are. There is no small talk in the elevator or grocery store anymore because we are all looking down. Even restaurants have started to put screens on the tables and in their wait staff’s hands which I am sure streamlines the ordering process, but also interrupts the connection that you make with the person who is taking their time to serve you.

I can’t help but wonder when like Dorthy and her followers, we will discover the man behind the curtain or rather the fellow humans behind the screens. While these devices may seem just as great and powerful as the Wizard of Oz, there’s something missing and something we are all longing for. Eventually we are going to have to decide whether we want a screenshot of life, a projection of what appears to be or whether we want to live life with and among those that surround us.

We all want to be seen. We all want to know that we aren’t on this journey alone. But in order to do that, we are going to have to put away the screen between us and look each other in the eyes and say, “I am here. You are here. And here we are together.”

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