Read Darling

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Confession No. 1: While I spend an obscene amount of time just staring at my baby, since having Fox I’ve also spent great deal of time on my iPhone. It’s small and one-hand friendly enough that I can check my email, read blogs, and stay connected to the outside world via social media, all while feeding or holding my baby.

Confession No. 2: I like to collect artsy and cool magazines but I rarely read them.

I picked up this copy of the new magazine Darling: The Art of Being A Woman at Shop Good last week. If you threw Anthology, Kinfolk, and Equals Record in a blender you’d get Darling. So one morning I put a sleepy Fox in his Sakura Bloom sling and sat down to some tea, oatmeal, and Darling. My computer and phone were tempting me in my periphery but I was craving some quality offline content consumption. The magazine is great – it’s stylish but not snobby. The content is carefully curated to share a good balance of art, beauty, and practical tidbits.

But what I noticed as I was reading this magazine is that my attention span is completely shot. I found myself skipping paragraphs and jumping pages. The equivalent of hopping from open tab to open tab in my browser. I was challenged to hold my focus on a beautiful magazine in my peaceful and picture-perfect breakfast nook. I found myself with a compulsive itch for the kind of chaos that only social media can seem to scratch these days. Now look, I don’t think the internet is bad (I mean, here I am). But it might be a problem when I’m 5 pages into a really great read and at the same time am habitually reaching for my phone to refresh Instagram for the 10th time in 20 minutes. (And on that note, I’ve also noticed that even TV can’t seem to hold my attention – I seem to mindlessly grab for my phone when I’m watching my shows too!)

So I think I’d like to tweak my morning routine for a while and instead of absent-mindedly scrolling through my RSS feed and Pinterest I’m going to drag out all the magazines I’ve collected and practice giving real pages that I can turn my undivided attention.

  1. Mel

    Trust me, this isn’t just you. My boyfriend and I will be on an iPad and iPhone, respectively, while watching TV. It’s only shows like Breaking Bad that break that habit for us. It’s definitely easy to fall into, like any other “bad” habit, but mindfulness is usually the key to breaking it. Or just stepping out of it when you need to.

    Thanks for the reminder!

    • Jennie

      My husband and I do too! It’s so terrible. We’re like ipad zombies in front of the tv in the evenings. I’m blaming it on winter and am hoping nicer weather will lure us out into the world again.

  2. I’m glad I’m not the only one. I think its more out of necessity to feel hyper connected to the world than anything such as boredom. Out of interest has this mostly been since you had Fox or did you catch yourself at it before?

    • The iPhone habit has definitely been exacerbated since having Fox. Being holed up in the house (bad weather) and constant feedings make it all too easy to reach for my phone.

      • I went through S&TC and The OC re-runs whilst I was feeding Dominic, they were just long enough to watch whilst doing a feed and settle down. With Eve I was usually playing one handed with Dom or when he started nursery I was usually on emails etc. Put the phone down. Watch some tv (mindless or informative – I also watched quite a few docu’s too) or get some TED talks on, or dare I say it – audio books. This time is yours as well as his, unless you have another baby (even if you do it’s not the same blissed out and peaceful affair), never in your life are you getting this much free day time again.

  3. Becca

    This happened to me too and I definitely attribute it to becoming a mom. It’s like I am so hyperfocused on Helena when she is awake so when she goes to bed the last thing I want to do is focus on anything – TV, books, magazines. I just flip through twitter and tumblr and stare off into space. Being a mom has really cut into my staring off into space time …!

  4. Jenny

    I feel you on this one. I’ll be reading something, even like a really great book that I am totally into, and my hand will just creep over and pick up my phone and turn it on, “Just to check.” As if it had a mind of its own. It actually has started to freak me out how mindlessly I reach for that thing so I’ve been making a serious effort to ground myself in the real, present world whenever possible (which, realistically, is a lot more than I expect).

  5. Dave

    This is one of the things I like about having a 100 year-old letterpress in my house. It reminds me of the value of letters and words; smelly, gooey ink pressed hard on tactile paper; slowing down and contemplating. J.R.R. Tolkien, David McCullough, Hunter S. Thompson, David Sedaris, Cormac McCarthy, Will Self and others still write (or did) on manual typewriters. Will Self said, “I think the computer user does their thinking on the screen, and the non-computer user is compelled, because he or she has to retype a whole text, to do a lot more thinking in the head.”
    My goal is to always compose a blog post first with pen on paper. I don’t mean to sound all ostentatious. It’s just that I’m so old it’s what seems natural.
    Can’t wait to meet Fox!

    • I think there is a mind / body connection that happens when we put pen to paper. That’s why I insist my Braid clients actually fill out their branding & coaching exercises by hand. I also think it’s why so many graphic designers crave making things with their hands – they miss the intimacy of creating when it’s restricted to a screen.

      When Fox finds more of a routine we’ll all have to grab coffee!

  6. Jennie

    Oh man…I can relate so much. I have a list of books I want to read but I find myself doing the same thing…reading a few pages then putting it down to scroll around on my iphone or ipad. Same thing when I watch tv…even if I’m engrossed in what’s going on! I feel like my brain and attention span is broken. I was wondering if blogging could help, since it would at least apply a creative outlet to the screen time? The worst part of it all is that the social media and iphone scrolling isn’t even exceptionally interesting. It’s almost just a compulsion at this point!

  7. Kristin

    I have felt the same way lately and wondered if it was all on me. But then I realized that I had just finished reading a 1500 page book without feeling like I needed to jump around or lose attention. So is our collective attention span really shot OR is the content just not as good as it use to be?

    Not to say that this particular magazine doesn’t have good content. It looks great! Just a generalization.

  8. I understand confession #2. I have a pile of great magazines waiting to be read… O.o Call me crazy, but I love them! Even though I’ve hardly touched them.

  9. Ariel

    I have a nine month old on the move. If it wasn’t for the iPhone I would be completely isolated. My usage tripled when I had my son. I would chat to other new mums in the middle of the night during marathon feeds complaining about chapped and raw nipples and sore stitches.
    Now I find I save my social media catch-ups for the last feed of the day when I finally can sit and unwind. The equivalent of a one-handed magazine.

  10. emily hassman

    I definitely have the attention span issues… without the baby as a viable excuse! I have needed a lot of couch time lately. I’m trying to be ok with that, all the sitting is very weird for me. But I find myself checking instagram and facebook (ick) and playing bejeweled blitz WHILE watching TV, as if I could possibly *need* all that stimulation. What is up with this?!

  11. alicia

    I feel like such a multitasking machine. Unless if I am exhausted and just don’t want to do anything I can’t sit still anymore and enjoy a tv show or documentary.

    Also, I love reading but have totally fallen out of it. Isn’t that sad? It’s so difficult for me to actually get through a book now if I am not on vacation.

  12. Lisa

    I’ve been noticing the same thing in myself lately and I hate it. Long form reading was MY JAM back in the day. I taught myself to read obscenely early and often was punished by having my books taken away. Now I feel like I’ve betrayed myself and my books by getting WAY too absorbed in Twitter and whatever else.

    It is alarming. I’ve been trying to hang on to morning pages and longer reads, but it’s hard. I’m going to try to write mini book reports on my blog this year to give me more motivation to read good stuff in print and finish what I start.

  13. Yep, me, too. I have lost the attention span even for magazines and now find myself reading the captions and moving on! I’ve gone big and am reading whole books again to get back to some degree of focus. So far, so good. Still not giving up my blog time. :)

  14. Heather

    Your confessions are very similar to mine!! Magazine-wise, I have a shelf on my bookcase dedicating to magazines I just can’t get rid of. A French Vogue (mind you, I’ve never been to France, it was bought at Barnes & Noble…) and 3.5 years worth of NYLON….

    • NYLON is my favorite airport indulgence! I should probably get a subscription though. Love it.

  15. Elizabeth

    Well after two days of being completely absorbed in the Darling Magazine website, I’m back to say thank you for making me aware of such a splendid site. Oh, and also that I can completely relate to this ever dwindling attention span and the need to be connected. I realized this a few days ago during a little thing I’d call the trifecta of minial attention (i.e. watching a TV show, while browsing blogs on my laptop, while scanning Instagram on my phone). After reading your post I went straight to the book store and purchased a whole stack of actual, REAL books. It feels great to get back into reading something that isn’t on a screen. Thanks for the motivation and inspiration!

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