Online Distractions

Yesterday evening (Sunday 26 November), found me contentedly sitting on the sofa in my living room, reading a recently purchased braille edition of Robert Frost’s “North of Boston”, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3026/3026-h/3026-h.htm. On turning to the final poem in “North of Boston”, which is entitled “Good Hours” https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/good-hours, I came across the word profanation.

Being wholly unfamiliar with the word I was keen to ascertain its meaning. I had, however turned off my computer (quite deliberately as I wished to spend the remainder of Sunday evening reading, undisturbed by technology). I do not own a braille dictionary (they are, to my knowledge no longer produced as blind users can access online dictionaries), consequently the only way in which I would have been able to find the definition of profanation would have been by turning on my computer or looking up the word using the search engine on my mobile phone, (both devices are equipped with screen readers which convert text into speech and braille).

To cut a long story short, due to my unwillingness to succumb to the demon of technology, I left my curiosity unsatisfied until this evening (Monday 27 November).

I spend much of my life engaging with technology. My job entails the use of a computer Monday through to Friday, while my poetry is written using a laptop. Consequently I relish time away from electronic gadgetry, hence my disinclination to engage with technology yesterday evening.

I do, of course recognise the value of online reference books. Language is constantly evolving and it is not always convenient to lug a heavy dictionary around with one. However, when writing it is easy to go to one of the many online dictionaries, only to get caught up with online distractions such as webmail, social media etc. Had I the choice, I would not go online while writing but would rely on a good old-fashioned paper dictionary. However given the absence of braille dictionaries (as explained above) I have no option other than to use the internet. I will, however continue to avoid the temptation to go online during my leisure time, while reading for pleasure. We all, in my view benefit when we take a break from the World Wide Web and technology more generally.

Incidentally, for anyone interested in ascertaining the meaning of profanation, Merriam-Webster defines it as follows:
“the act or an instance of profaning”, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/profanation

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5 thoughts on “Online Distractions

  1. Mick Canning

    I think we’ve swapped a few thoughts before on Technology, Kevin, specifically its effects on life. Today, most people expect to not only get what they want, when they want it, but to be able to access answers to queries instantly. I think I still have the mindset that says ‘I’ll find out later’ and not worry about it. It’s partly why I like to leave my phone at home when I go out.

    I trust you enjoyed the Robert Frost.

    Reply
    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thanks Mick. I think that you and I agree on the issue of the excessive use of technology. Ironically, had I owned a braille dictionary (as I used to), I would have gone to my bookshelves and looked up the word in question. Walking to a bookcase is good healthy excise (smile)! Yes, I did enjoy Frost. His “North of Boston” is rather different to the earlier “A Boy’s Will”. I enjoyed both works, however the rhyming scheme in “A Boy’s Will” is, in my view rather more traditional than that utilised in most of the poems in “North of Boston”. Best, Kevin

      Reply

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