DON’T FORGET TO LOOK UP

One reason I wrote my newest book, KATIE FRIEDMAN GIVES UP TEXTING! (AND LIVES TO TELL ABOUT IT) — which can be found here and here, or better yet, at your local bookstore —  is because I really wanted to address the issue of kids being on their phones too much. The only problem was, it was hard for me to find the time to write it, because I was on my phone too much.

And therein lies the dilemma. How do I encourage kids not to do something when I’m doing it myself?

I email and text all day long. A lot of it is for work, and a lot of it is important. But a lot of it is not for work, and a lot of it is not important. But I do it anyway. I do it because my phone is in my pocket and I should probably just check to see if I got any emails while I’m waiting for this elevator, or standing in that Starbucks line… and while I’m at it, I may as well see if there are any new headlines on nytimes.com or nypost.com or espn.com or playbill.com or gawker.com… and oh yeah, I forgot to text my wife that I’ll be on a slightly later train home tonight…

Yeah. That’s pretty much what it’s like.

So why does it drive me crazy to see my kids – and all kids – behave the same way?

Maybe because I feel like it’s not too late for them. Maybe it’s because I think if they’re this bad now, imagine what they’ll be like when they’re my age! (Not that they can count that high.)

But mostly I think it’s because they’re so young, and I don’t want them to miss out on life. I can see young people narrowing their interests to a tiny screen, and spending most of their waking hours sending each other snapchats, and instagrams, and playing with the newest app is that is known only to people under 18, and I worry.

I worry that kids are looking down, instead of looking up.

I worry that kids play faster and looser with feelings when they’re typing than when they’re speaking — and as a result, egos can end up becoming inflated and bruised, two things that are equally dangerous.

And I worry that kids are gazing at their own reflections, instead of seeing the world.

But hold on – I don’t want to sound like one of those anti-technology extremists, either. There are wonderful things about all the fantastic gizmos available to us – and important things, too. Things that make us safer. Things that make us more informed. Things that really do connect us.

Katie’s best friend, the semi-infamous Charlie Joe Jackson, argues with Katie about how wonderful cellphones are. Charlie Joe makes the point that they actually help kids communicate. And he might be right. I’m not sure. But isn’t there is such a thing as communicating too much? Is it possible we should be communicating less and thinking more? Ugh… It’s complicated.

Then there is the issue of turning everything into a show.

In the book, Katie has a friend who’s a rock musician, named Plain Jane. She makes a point of telling her audiences to stop filming her concerts with their phones, and actually enjoy the music with their eyes and ears. “Don’t film it!” she urges. “Live it!”

I think she’s right. Because we all know that people take video of concerts and events and ballgames for one main reason. So they can post it on their pages and feeds and blogs and say, Hey, look! I was here! I’m awesome! Don’t you wish you were me?

I don’t love that.

I do it too – don’t get me wrong — but I don’t love it.

I don’t love that Facebook has become a place where people are constantly putting up pictures of themselves, and their new haircuts, and their fabulous vacations.

I don’t love selfies.

Our society is getting more and more narcissistic. And it’s because of social media. And what concerns me is that kids who adapt these habits will just fall deeper into the trap of self-absorption.

BUT… You can brag about your kids on Facebook. That’s totally allowed. It’s human nature. I do it constantly.

So where do we go from here? Can we be saved?

I wish I knew. Addictions are tough to break. And we are a technology-addicted society right now. But if we all take a look at ourselves, and our kids, and make a real effort to balance our lives, and our habits, and remember to look up every once in a while, maybe we can make some baby steps of progress. It’s a start, right?

So that’s why I wrote this book. I hope you like it, and I hope it makes you laugh a lot, and think a little.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a ton of emails to return.

KATIE FRIEDMAN CONTEST! FREE SIGNED COPIES!

It’s contest time again! My new book, KATIE FRIEDMAN GIVES UP TEXTING! (AND LIVES TO TELL ABOUT IT), comes out in two weeks, and to celebrate, I’m giving away FOUR SIGNED COPIES!

To enter to win, just comment on this post by answering these three very challenging questions:

 

1. In the book, Katie Friedman learns to live without her

a) retainer

b) phone

c) parents

 

2. Katie’s best friend is named

a) Andrew Jackson

b) Michael Jackson

c) Charlie Joe Jackson

 

3. Tommy Greenwald’s books are

a) made out of chocolate

b) written backwards

c) the best books in the whole wide world

 

Take your time. Answer carefully. Mistakes can be costly.

The winners will be announced on publishing day, February 17.

 

Good luck!!

 

-Tommy G

CHARLIE JOE JACKSON’S TOP TEN REASONS WHY CHEATING IS BAD

I don’t know what the New England Patriots were thinking. They’re already a great team – why mess it up by breaking the rules? I’m totally against cheating. No, seriously, I am!
Here are ten reasons why you should never ever cheat.

1. There are better ways to beat the system. For example, if you didn’t study for a test, don’t copy off the person next to you! Just convince the teacher that tests are overrated.

2. Cheaters always get caught. Except for Timmy McGibney that one time. Ooops!            Sorry, Timmy.

3. You’ll feel bad about yourself — so bad, even ice cream won’t help.

4. Your parents will be the one thing that’s worse than mad. They’ll be DISAPPOINTED.

5. Other kids will pretend to think it’s cool, but secretly they’ll think you’re a loser.

6. It will stick with you forever. Unlike, for example, a C- in sixth grade science. Not that I got that or anything.

7. Girls hate cheaters.

8. Being immoral is bad. As opposed to being immortal, which is excellent. Unless you’re a zombie.

9. Rules aren’t made to be broken. They’re made to be bent.

10. The food in detention is really bad.

Previous

My Books

Jack Strong Takes a Stand Trailer

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading Trailer

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Extra Credit Trailer