Read the Article, Not Just the Title

By the time I get a text tapped out, spring’s blossoms have turned into autumn’s dried leaves. Blossom, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

By contemporary standards, I am inept, because it takes me eight minutes to tap out a simple text on my ancient (two years?) Star Trek communicator fliptop phone.

My daughters laugh and laugh.

However, I do have a skill that predates 21st century technology, and it’s one that everyone, regardless of their technological toy arsenal, can — and should — get good at.

I read.

Specifically, when I’m on a social media site and I see a link to an article, like,

Praying for Miley, Britney, and Lindsay

I actually read the article, all the way through, before I share it or pass it on. Of course, in this particular case, I don’t have to read the article before sharing it since I wrote it, but before it was 45 seconds digitally live it garnered comments along the lines of:

“Amen! We need to pray for these precious young women.”

Well golly, Beave, that’s true, but it isn’t the point of the article. In our busy, frenetic lives, we are forgetting that headlines are designed to draw us into the story, not function as the article itself, but in a world of Tweets and Facebook posts, we are lulled into thinking that we can acquire knowledge, 140 characters at a time.

We really need to slow down and spend time with our thoughts. Gathering Thoughts, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

Many of us who do recognize that acquiring knowledge involves more than reading a headline fall into the bulletpoint trap, gravitating toward articles along the lines of,

  • 10 Surefire Ways to Get Your Boss Fired!
  • 7 Fabulous Techniques in Bed — and the Kitchen!
  • Have You Been Mugged? 6 Ways to Find out

My favorite was a variation of

  • 36 Things You Can Do with Dead Rhubarb Plants

with half of the bullet points saying, “I’ve never actually done this myself, but it sure looks like it would work!”

The only bullet point title I can remember doing is “Three Halloween No No’s for Christians.” Most of the time, my titles look like, “Should Christians Think?” or “People Call Us Stupid, You Know.”

And as much as I preen over the titles I give to the articles, I — and other writers — would really appreciate if people followed the links and read them, especially before passing them on.

I recognize that I’m raving, within the process not too subtly managing to get a number of links to my articles drawn to your attention, but I mean this, people:

Gardens are great places to learn. If you don’t like tomatoes, plant flowers. If you don’t have land, use a window box. Promenade, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

As the information, and disinformation, around us increases, we are becoming remarkably less able to process it, and we gain knowledge in a fragmented, bits and pieces manner. If we wanted to learn how to grow tomatoes, would we satisfy ourselves with a series of headlines –

Tomatoes are easy to grow

Even apartment dwellers can grow a tomato plant

Become more independent by growing what you can

Or would we buy, and read, a book or books; find, and peruse, online articles; and track down breathing human beings, who grow tomato plants, and ask them questions? At some point, we would actually plant a tomato plant, and it wouldn’t be on Farmville.

Technology’s cool — it opens the whole wide world up to us in a way that it wasn’t back when I was in second grade. But it also closes worlds, as we spend time digitally surfing, jumping from site to site to site, twitting instead of knitting.

As our economy continues to bedraggle itself out of bed, flopping back against the pillows in exhaustion, we who need to eat regularly every day have to solve our problems ourselves, and we don’t do that by being shallow, impatient, flutterbudgety, and online, all the time.

We need to know how to do actual, non-digital things, like grow tomato plants and cook the resulting fruit, and we learn this by doing.

Learning how to do things — anything — is a means of becoming more independent. The more independent you are, the less affected you are by circumstances around you. For example, in our erratic economy that goes down, up, down, and then sort of draggles along, if you know how to do something as simple as cook your own food, you can save money on eating. If you know how to patch a garment, you will save money on clothing.

Make subtle, realistic changes to your lifestyle to become more independent.

It’s basic, but it works. This attitude worked for our parents and grandparents during the Great Depression, and we can use it to work for us today. My book, Live Happily on Less, is a series of essays, like the one you just read, showing you how you can develop this attitude of independence, so that you can get by — better — on the resources that you have.

$12.99 paperback, $5.99 digital at Amazon.com. Borrow for free on Amazon Prime. Also available at Barnes and Noble.

This article was originally published in ThoughtfulWomen.org.

 

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