Often when I am tired, I remain on the couch and mindlessly scroll through Facebook. Or, I get in bed and scroll through my three (count 'em) instagram feeds. Maybe I'll check Goodreads one more time. I used to try to catch up on my Twitter feed as well, but I got logged out and haven't felt like playing the login/password guessing game to log back in.
What I should be doing at that point in an evening is going to bed. I know it. I know I'm tired, but I think I'm looking at my screens for one last something to finish or fill out my day. Something to make me laugh? Something to get annoyed about? Something to make me feel less than? Something to make me feel superior? I don't even know. What I do know is something I need to write on a post-it and leave on my screen/s: What you're looking for is not here.
It's not there. So why peek at my phone when I'm out to lunch with my kids? Why waste twenty minutes of reading or resting time checking Facebook? Why not figure out how I really want to fill my days?
There's obviously much more to say about the way technology removes us from tangibility and connection, but I don't have the juice to say much more this evening. Crafting a blog post is more satisfying than checking Facebook though.
All of this is just to give you some context for my love for Courtney Maum's new novel Touch. A trend forecaster is hired by a tech company and realizes that the trends she sees and her own desires prioritize touch over tech. I loved how hopeful Touch was and really love Maum's writing.
Here's a gem of an insight. Sloane Jacobsen, the novel's trend forecaster and protagonist, is checking in with her team of "snouts" all around the world to see what trends they are sniffing. Here's her conversation with Rufus in New Delhi:
"Okay, so it's a Pointless button. It started as an app, and the app failed, but a guy here resurrected it. You just poke and poke and poke at your phone, and eventually, after an unpredictable number of attempts, something completely random will emerge. An image. A sound. A photo of a camel."
"Discovery," Sloane said. "Hope."
"Well, yeah, exactly," said Rufus, who sounded like he was drinking something. It was the middle of the night in New Delhi, the doughy part of the evening where your actual thoughts were weirder than your dreams. Rufus was a programmer who slept during the day.
"I mean, it replicates what we're all hoping, which is that something great and beautiful is going to come out of our phones" (231-32).
Something great and beautiful is ultimately going to come out of something other than our phones and screens. Post-it: What you're looking for is not here.
Read Touch with your book club. Then, on your own, treat yourself to Maum's earlier (and also excellent) novel, I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You.