Call me Chicken Little

The Husband and the Daughter don’t read my blog- they figure they live it first hand, so why should they read about it.  But my daughter does ask me what I wrote about that day, and we discuss it.  When I told her about Friday’s post, and how I portrayed it- she said she wanted to read it.  After she read it she told me that a) there was a typo in the first sentence, and b) she thought I didn’t explain myself properly.  She felt I was coming from a position of anger.  Was I?  I asked her why it was bad, and she explained that when you’re angry, the only thing that comes across is that you’re a little crazy, but your point doesn’t always make it.  So I’m going to give you what I hope is a clear mission statement, and then I’m going to expound.

I like technology.  I have no doubt that technology has made things easier.  I have no doubt that technology has made things better.  I love my computer, the internet and my smart phone.  I even like audio books.  I am not a luddite, and I make use of many tech gadgets and apps and whatever.

Here’s the problem as I see it.  Though tech is great, we have to watch that we are not overdoing it.  Everything should be done in moderation.  To rely on technology to a degree that we are literally always holding a tech device is not good.  To replace traditional learning methods entirely is not good. I feel that you need to understand the process before you can proceed.

I really started to fear for our society after reading 2 books- “The Circle” by Dave Eggers, and “Feed” by MT Anderson.  I am now going to give some details about each book and why it scared me- if you don’t like spoilers continue to the next paragraph.  In “Feed”, children are no longer taught to read and to write- these arts are considered ancient.  People have chips implanted in their brains that tell them everything, enabling them to telepathically send messages to others.  Think this sounds great?  Think about if you never used words- how do you think you would speak?  Do you think you could form sentences?  Do you think you would personally know more that about 100 words?  Do you think any great scientific advances will be made if no one can think about what might be possible?  If no one has imagination?  In “the Circle”, people are so busy liking things and participating in social media, they no longer experience life.  Why actually travel- you really only need one person to travel, and they wear a body camera and send you back pictures- you don’t need to leave your couch to climb a mountain- but you can like and comment.  Oh- and privacy is a thing of the past- there are no secrets in the circle- every knows everything about everybody.  The possibility of these things scare me.  The fact that I think they are entirely possible scares me.

But am I wrong?

I don’t say those words very often, so pay heed.

I was out with friends yesterday, and began discussing why I thought students should not be using audio books for school lessons.  My friend said “Why not?”  Do we need to read and write?  If tech can do something better, shouldn’t it?  This is how we advance, by using technology.  You’re old.  You don’t want to change.”

Ok- I admit.  It was the “you’re old” part that got me.  Am I becoming a crotchety old lady who is going to go around saying “In my day, we actually looked at words on a page……”

Let’s look at my title today: Call me Chicken Little.  I think I’m clever, playing on a combination of two different literary works- I think I’m using my base knowledge.  But does it matter if most people don’t get what I am referring to?

Do we need to read and write and do basic math skills?

I’m going with a big resounding –Yes we do, because it helps us learn and think.  I don’t think we can advance by forgetting the basics.  I think not knowing the basics will only bring us backwards.  So please, call me Chicken Little.

But am I wrong?

Am I crazy?  (about this- let’s limit the crazy to one thing at a time)

What do you all think?  Should we try to tame the tech monster?  Do we need to?  Is it too late?  I’ve had many discussions about this with many other bloggers the past few days- and I think we really need to think about this.  Before the sky falls.



Rationally Fearful- Part 2

Yesterday, you read about my fear of lighthouse climbing.  For the record, we also visited Bunker Hill Memorial while we were in Boston.  I’d never been to Bunker Hill, so imagine my surprise when we jumped out of an Uber to discover that the Memorial is a 294 step obelisk, spiral staircase included….The Bunker Hill story ends pretty much as the lighthouse story ended…me sliding on my backside down 294 steps….

But the terrifying nightmare family vacation continues:

After Boston, next stop : Maine.  Specifically- Acadia.  Acadia, as in mountains.

So, you are probably thinking, “Gee, how does someone who is afraid of a 40 foot high lighthouse actually hike in the mountains?”

I really enjoy hiking.  I love nature.  I love being outdoors.  As a city dweller, I don’t often get to experience green fields and trees, so I try to incorporate at least one hike into every vacation.  My Husband is not afraid of heights.  My daughter is part mountain goat, part adrenaline junkie.  Finding a balance of keeping us all happy is important.

Picture this:  the information desk at Acadia- the players- Park Ranger, The Husband and me:

Me:  I’m a bit afraid of heights, but I’m OK with physical challenges.  Can you recommend a good hike for my family.

Park Ranger:  (opens the map- takes her pen) Start here, Gorham Mountain Trailhead- it’s on the loop road just past Thunder Hole.  It’s a tough hike, but there are no ledges or anything to scare you.  When you get to this point. cross the street and then head back to your car along the Ocean Cove path.  Really beautiful.

The Husband now joins the conversation, he missed my question because he was purchasing a park access pass.

Husband: Can you recommend a really good hike- no issues with fear or strength?

Park Ranger: (she looks at me, then at him) Are you together?

I’ve always been afraid of heights.  Always.  I never liked roller coasters.  I wouldn’t climb to the top of the Statue of Liberty in third grade.  I don’t like heights.

The Husband knew this before we were married.  The husband knows this now.  I have no issues with telling people about my fear of heights, falling and small spaces.

Which brings us to the next questions:

  1. Should you be embarrassed by your fears?  No, because it’s part of who you are.  To be embarrassed by it is to not accept something about yourself.  Not accepting yourself is never good.
  2. Should you partner/family/friends be embarrassed by your fears?  No.  You need to accept people for who they are.  If you are embarrassed by someone else’s fears, you must ask yourself why.  Why does someone else’s personality trait bother you so much?  Does it really impact your life?

I don’t think my husband is thrilled about my fear of heights and falling.  He gets slightly annoyed when I hike really slowly and/or cautiously.  He hates when people pass us (but that’s a whole other blog for another day). He has said on more than one occasion “You can do this.”

Which brings me to the next question:

  1. Should someone push you into doing something you are fearful of? 

This is where it gets tricky.  On one hand, sometimes you just need a little push to get over the hump.  On the other hand, no one should push you into doing something you don’t feel comfortable doing.  But how do you know which case it is?

Next question:

  1. Is your fear impacting your life?  Did you ever watch the TV show “Monk”?  Monk was so paralyzed by his fears (which included a fear of milk) that he was unable to work at a job he loved- ie being a detective.  So if you have a fear that is impacting your life, you may want to do something about it.  Not being able to hike up mountains is not impacting my life.  I am not a goat herder.  I am not a Sherpa.  Manhattan is a relatively flat island.
  2. Is fear stopping you from doing something you really want to do?  I’m going with a real life example here.  A few years ago we were in Hawaii.  My daughter,the adrenaline junkie,wanted to jump off Black Rock, a cliffish spot on Maui.  Though generally fearless, this made her pause.  I asked her if she would regret not doing this activity, to which she replied “Yes”.  So I talked to her about her fear (I know- the woman who can’t climb down the steps of a lighthouse is giving advice on cliff diving) and said I would love her either way, jumping was entirely her decision- but that I had every faith that she could do it if she wanted to.  (Disclaimer- I was petrified of her diving off of a cliff into the ocean- but I didn’t want to let my anxiety over power her)  She ended up doing it- and was so glad she did.  In my case- I don’t care if I hike to the top of a mountain.  I get enjoyment just being outside.  My family wanted to do the “beehive trail”.  This trail entailed scaling the side of a mountain holding onto handrails- at almost a 90 degree pitch.  I had NO INTEREST in this hike. I told them to enjoy themselves, and I would find a shady spot to read my book.  They loved the hike- I loved reading.  Win win.  I know I’m capable of hiking mountains- I really don’t want to.

And here ends our tales of fear.  For the record- I am not an expert on anything.  Everything written is personal experience and observation.










Rationally Fearful- Part 1

So where were we……

Oh yeah….fear……

I am logical.

Fear is illogical.

Therefore, I am not fearful.

Ha- said the theorem guy.

I am afraid of heights.  More specifically, I’m afraid of falling.  As I am not a window washer or a trapeze artist, this does not impact me in my daily life.  I am able to food shop, clean (though my cleaning skills are debatable), walk my dog, etc- with no blips.  The time when this fear rears its angry head most often is when I am on vacation.

And you know I was just on vacation.

Let’s start with the lighthouse.  We went to visit Nobska Lighthouse in Falmouth.  It’s a beautiful, old lighthouse (1876), which normally affords a wonderful view of Martha’s Vineyard.  Due to technical difficulties (fog) we were unable to see MV, but it didn’t matter- the whole setting was beautiful.  Nobska is officially 40 feet high( though our guide told us 39- so, if I’m wrong- sorry- but I’m not fact checking any more than this)

Yeah, 40 feet, which is probably as tall as a giant, but not particularly tall.

So we climbed the first set of 15 steps.  15 spiral steps.  Did I tell you I don’t love tight spaces either?

And I made it to the first level.  Whew.

Then I realized there is a ladder to go up to the top- to see the actual light.  A tight, spiral ladder with very steep steps.  Miniscule handrail.  Ummmm- do I really need to see the light?  Could it be any different than the lightbulb in my house?  But- I waited for twenty minutes for the tour of the lighthouse, and the tour is only given once a week……so…….well I went up the ladder.

And I’m at the top- and the guide is telling us the history of the lighthouse- but I’m only half listening, because I am fixated on the tight, spiral ladder that is going to lead me down.  And the big first step.  With the tiniest of handrails.  That I have to descend backwards.  While I’m afraid of heights, tight spaces and falling.


Now I will freely admit, that this was not particularly high, nor tight, nor scary.  The ladder to the top was maybe 8 steps.  Toddlers and people in wheel chairs were able to handle this (no- not really- but you get the idea of how simple and non- terrifying this was)

And I told our guide that I might be joining him for the rest of the day, because I didn’t think I’d make it down.  I don’t think he was amused.

I took off my flip flops, because no one was meant to scale tight spiral ladders in flip flops….said a prayer to every deity I could think of….held onto the little handrail for dear life- and climbed down the arduous 8 steps.

When I made it to the bottom, shoes in hand- I high fived every one.  Not really- they were too busy thinking I was crazy.  Or they’d gotten a peak at my bright pink thing as I was descending the ladder.  Probably a combination of both, because as I was scared of this lighthouse, the sight of my backside in a hot pink thong is even scarier.

And now you’re thinking- how did someone who is afraid of heights go hiking in Acadia…..

Tune in tomorrow for the second part of my fearful life…..