“Damn Smartphones” or “Damn You Gutenberg”?

I was Internet surfing the other day and came across my 4,764th (yes, I’m counting) article/blog lamenting the fall of western civilization due to adults and children having their faces buried in a smart phone when they should be, in no particular order: eating dinner, conversing or paying attention at or to a meeting, teacher, instructor, partner, friend, significant other, movie, TV, Date, marketer, presentation, burglar, drug dealer, your boss, their boss, physician, drive through employee, politician, pest control, or spouse significant or gratuitous sexual encounter (adults only).

The last straw was this mommy blog where she writes that she has her kids in the car and she’s driving down some idyllic drive by some idyllic lake where the weather and sun and sky and trees are all perfect and she glances back at her little angels and (pause while I throw up just a little bit)but they had missed the whole thing because their faces were buried in their smartphones. Leaving aside they were too young to HAVE smartphones, or issues of parental discipline or child entitlement or first world problems in general, I decided to do a little research, and by luck, happened to find the following essay, FROM 1514, 500 years ago.

It went like this.(pardon any translation errors, but its hard to find a program to translate 16th century German).

“My name is Else Luther, and I’m a Mom. I really need to vent today, so let me tell you this story. Me, my husband, Ehrhardt our oldest daughter, Byztel and our younger son Martin, were making plans to head the next day to my mothers, for All Saints Day church service and feast. Ehrhardt is a cobbler, and the shoes don’t give him, or us, very much time away so a trip to see family and friends, far far off, twenty kilometres from home is a treat. But, it takes a full day preparation. Making Erbeßsuppen, (Pea Soup), Gút Schweinebraten, (Good Roast Pork), and Torten von Epffel (Apple Tart) is an all day job for me and Byztel, who is already 14 and will be married soon to that Gutenberg Boy, (who is very cute). However, in order to be able to leave at 5 am, Martin, 12, needs to ready the carriage and horses, and help us pack the wagon. And… where is Martin almost constantly? With his nose in a BOOK!! For those of you who may not have one yet, or seen one, Byztels boyfriends father invented this thing called the “printing press” which allows for the publishing of books, which for the life of me, I don’t understand why anyone needs. Monks copy them all their lives by hand, and what other book does anyone need, but the Bible, which only the Catholic Priests may read and we’re not allowed. But Herr Gutenberg has taken a liking towards Martin, and keeps giving him more books. Why, he probably has FOUR by now.

I’m always telling him to hide them, because they can easily set his father into a rage. “What, he’ll scream, “you have your head in another book?!?!” “What is wrong with you son?!?! I never read and I earn a good living, have a good family. A book is never going to earn you money. Nobody reads!!! You’re wasting your life with this nonsense. AND, if the Priests find out your reading the BIBLE, I can’t imagine what that is going to cost me in indulgences!!” Martin lowered his head and muttered, “I think these indulgences things are wicked, and the Church has become Greedy!!” Which made his father fume even more; “What did you do, read that in one of your BOOKS?. Shyt, son, as if you could start your own church or something?!?!?” (making sign of the cross).

I always came to Martin’s aid, getting his father to calm down and encouraging Martin to read more in secret, out of his father’s eyes, which brings me to what has me so upset. So after hounding Martin to put his book down and help get ready, we were finally ready to get in the wagon at 5 am and be off to Mother’s house.

We’re headed down the path by the Rhine River, and enjoying the beautiful day. Sunny, and not too cool or not too hot enjoying a little of Ehrhardts beer and enjoying the different colors of the leaves which had all changed, the birds in the air, and the wildlife drinking at the river. We’re all taking about how much fun we’ll have at Grandma’s, how much we’ll enjoy the feast, our plans for Byztel’s upcoming nuptials, Ehrhardt venting about the tax man I(not really noticing Martin is not contributing) when all of a sudden, we see two bears having sex at a tree at rivers edge. I turn around to alert Martin, so he can enjoy this glorious display when I see he had his NOSE IN A BOOK!!! “By God’s bones!!!!”, I said, (I rarely swear, but that boy…), you haven’t heard a word we’ve been saying and NOW you’ve missed two bears sarding in the woods.” I grabbed the book and threw it in the river. “There, that will teach you a lesson”. In this world you need to be connected to everyone around you all the time. What in God’s bones do you think books are going to teach you, anyway? How to form your own church? (making the sign of the cross).”

“Damn Guttenberg. Before you know it, no one is going to be speaking to each other eating dinner, conversing or paying attention at or to a meeting, teacher, instructor, partner, friend, significant other, play, courting, craftsman, burglar, beer maker, your boss, their boss, physician, mayor,spouse or gratuitous animal sard. (adults only). Life was better before books”.

Reaching the end of the essay on my smartphone, I, smilingly knowingly, and seeing that the more things change, they stay the same, went off to the zoo, with my smartphone, to see if I could get some video of some good sards.

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