My vaccination this morning went OK. I got there on time and the long queue moved quite quickly, probably because a socially distanced queue looks a lot longer than it actually is. I was a bit overwhelmed on walking into the surgery, which was very busy, but my usual GP happened to be doing vaccinations today, saw me come in and said he would vaccinate me, which was helpful. I did shake a bit, which I know is a mixture or anxiety and olanzapine side effects, but which still upsets me a bit, although I’ve got a bit used to it after so many years. The jab itself was painless and only took a couple of seconds; in fact the whole process, from joining the queue to being outside the surgery again took only ten minutes. I’ve been critical of the NHS in the past, but they do seem to be managing this well.

Unfortunately, an hour later I was on the phone to the surgery again. I had tried to pick up my repeat prescription on the way home, but it had not arrived at the pharmacist. Having spoken to the pharmacist and the GP’s secretary, I’m not sure where the problem was, but I was going to run out of olanzapine tomorrow night and, because of Shabbat (the Sabbath), I needed the repeat prescription today. The GP’s secretary said she would pass the prescription request back to the doctors and I was able to collect the prescription from the pharmacist this afternoon before Shabbat started. I had been thinking about going to shul (synagogue) this evening, but held back for various reasons, which turned out reasonably well, as it would have been stressful getting the medication in time to go out again.

***

Reading this interesting article on online culture and the erosion of the difference between public and private space prompted a few thoughts:

  1. It’s weird to see two secular thinkers repeating something that a very Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) rabbi said about twenty years ago about the internet: that its chief danger is that it brings the outside in. When I first heard that (from the person the Haredi rabbi said it to in the early days of the internet), I thought it was ridiculously reactionary, but reading the article, I wonder if he had a point after all.
  2. The article made me thankful for Shabbat and reminded me of David’s recent post on the subject. As I commented over there, I regard the outlawing of electricity use on Shabbat as nothing short of providential. Even though electricity use does not intuitively violate any of the forbidden labours, as far as I’m aware, no major posek (decisor of Jewish law) permitted its use on Shabbat, albeit for different reasons, sometimes simply because it was not held to be fitting for the atmosphere of the day, or because it had become customary to avoid it. Although it may seem impossible to those who have never tried it, Shabbat without internet, TV, computers and phones creates an island of peace and reflection in the midst of the week, a time for building relationships with family and friends (pre-COVID, anyway), reading, thinking and generally living at a slow and gentle pace, not constantly stimulated and provoked in different ways. Inasmuch as I have any profound ideas about anything, I’m pretty sure that most of them come on Shabbat.
  3. In terms of online echo chambers, I’m glad that blogging about autism and mental health has brought me into contact with a group of people who cut across borders of politics, nationality, religion and gender. It can be discomfiting to meet people who think differently, but the alternative is a world made of hostile cliques. I recently deleted my barely-used Twitter account because I worried I was only interacting with people I thought I would agree with. Twitter as a whole seems to be designed for performative anger and self-righteous virtue signalling rather than open-minded discussion.

And now it’s nearly Shabbat so I’m going to shut down for twenty-five hours!

6 thoughts on “No Screens

  1. Lots of positive news here. Whenever there is a power outage, I think about how peaceful it is to unplug. It would be helpful to have a definite reason to do so every week.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I think I would struggle to unplug without feeling I HAD to do it, even knowing how much I benefit from it, which I guess is a scary indication of how our screens rule over us.

      Like

  2. When I got a new phone last May, I decided not to install Twitter. As I was now working from home, I had no need of transit and weather alerts — and so did not need to be wasting my time scrolling through a feed that added nothing much to my life. I have never felt comfortable or connected on Twitter. I haven’t deleted the account — and I think I might have enjoyed following some accounts connected to TV shows I enjoy — but I still resist going back to it. Reading/writing blogs is a much more meaningful use of internet time.

    Your remarks about Sabbath gave me an idea for something of my own to write.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think the Tablet article made a couple good points, namely, the lack of “unchosen strangers/ online echo chamber phenomenon (which I think is a a huge problem of political discourse over social media today) and the “How will this look on Instagram” phenomenon. But otherwise, I wasn’t that crazy about the article. I found the writing to be jumpy and all over the place. I don’t see how strengthening institutions is a realistic solve to the problem.

    Liked by 1 person

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