On reading and life with limited Internet

Our internet is more reliable than that of most people in EG (we can pay for an expensive connection and we live in a neighborhood with good signal). It’s still not fantastic, and it’s still limited. Try getting a family used to iPhones and kindles and Netflix and living in the future to live on a diet of 25GB/ month has been challenging.

We turn off the wifi on all of our devices when we’re not using them. We’ve taught the children that they can only watch cartoons on DVD. And now that we have satellite TV at the house, hopefully we ourselves will do less turning to the internet for news and information. It’s strange, though, how much of a habit turning to my phone when i’m bored has become. I hate it, I’ve always hated it, and yet, I can’t seem to resist the siren song of logging in just one more time.

In a way, I’m profoundly grateful for the opportunity to limit my internet use. It’s a chance to catch up on my hobbies, catch up on my reading—yes, reading. Now that the kids are at least somewhat self sufficient, I’m back to devouring books like they’re chocolate. I have discovered, to my chagrin, that it’s harder to digest difficult material that it used to be. Over the last several years, I’ve slowly let my brain forget what it’s like to tackle difficult reading, how to focus on an author’s words while I’m reading them, and how to reflect on them. Blame it on easy internet access, smart phones, or parenthood. Whatever the source, I don’t like it.

In Jerusalem, I began a project with a friend to “read our way through Africa.” He made an asshole comment about war and poverty and famine and AIDS, and I responded with heat. He challenged me to find books that defy this perception. I was most successful in doing this through fiction. Afrofuturism is rich and diverse, and I’ve really enjoyed diving into it. But it wasn’t enough, and with the stress of a terrible work situation, young kids, and a spouse who was justifiably angry at the frustrations he faced in Jerusalem, I was content to read mostly fluff. I needed more fluff in my life, to be honest.

Today, I’m happier. I’m digging into books again. Physical books that I can hold in my hands and take to the beach and slowly, so slowly, get used to consuming real literature again.

And it’s wonderful.

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