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while driving to school one morning, bella asked marty ...

BELLA
how do you do all this?

MARTY
all what?

BELLA
all this. get up. get dressed. make lunch. drive to another day of the same thing.

MARTY
because i love what i do.

BELLA
but what if you don't love what you do?

MARTY
that is why it is so important to figure that question out while you're young. because if you choose poorly life will feel very differently than it could and should.

this conversation continued through the drive to school. after listening to bella go on about not seeing the point of it and just feeling sad too often, marty said that she felt that her mood may be emanating from digital overload and could be specifically tied to the iPhone she got in august when she began high school. marty recounted how at the tail end of our week of digital-free tent-camping in northern michigan (weeks before getting the phone), bella proclaimed in a near shout-from-the-rooftop energy that she felt awesome and thought that camping in the woods away from screens and outlets made her the best version of herself.

when bella approached me about it later in the week, i confessed that i made a mistake with her and both her mother and i wished, in hindsight, that we never got her a phone. aside from the fact that it hasn't proven to be the necessity we were told it would be, the flaw in my math was thinking bella was now mature enough to hold the ever-ready, always-able device at bay. i see now i was wrong. and as i ruminate on the matter further, i see i was being overly hopeful in what i was about to ask of my fourteen year old daughter. i explained to bella that i work hard to not let the shiny and chirping objects that live all around me drive my life but instead that i use them intentionally, bending them to my will and making them work for me in ways that enhance my days, versus allowing them to undermine what i'm capable of achieving and keeping me from being the person i'm meant to be. in thinking things through i realize that i have decades of use and failure and experience that allows me to make mature choices regarding my digital immersion. i had it in my head that making bella wait until high school and counseling her early, we could head off the digital avalanche but i now see asking that of her is like asking someone to divert a waterfall with a dixie cup and kitchen strainer.

so, marty and i will go back to the drawing board and work to dig out of this reasonably shitty hole we have placed ourselves in. and the extra sucky thing is that before the purchase our intuition kept telling us not to do it but we (me mostly) kept pushing it aside leaning on the relentless arguments that if your child isn't "connected" they will, in time, be hopelessly stranded or desperately unemployable or socially isolated. i now deem these arguments complete and absolute bullshit. fact of the matter is, the opposite is probably the truer case. and on a personal level, i will be the happiest guy in town when i finally learn to stop ignoring that spidey-sense that tingles when i'm about to make a bad decision because, to date, i don't think it has ever been wrong.

NOV2015

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