Some of us have managed to do this for decades, WITHOUT imposing the kind of greedy, manipulative, democracy-threatening insanity Facebook hath wrought. ( See for some old-schoolers in genuine virtual community, as opposed to a bunch of self-brand-building bullshit.)

The pandemic has amplified an existing crisis of meaning for many folks. Some of our ambition, our drive, reflects misplaced American values. We care about "success" or "making a difference" more than family, nature, relishing our presence on this planet in this one fragile lifetime.

For women, it can be extra-sucky. We want to raise our children and yeeettt it's really really hard, and we've been told that our value, our worth, is dependent on succeeding in the public sphere rather than the home.

Originally published by Bend Design Conference & Scalehouse

You know when your black-cloaked client sweeps into Starbucks in his jackboots, breathes heavily through his black face mask, and intones, “Come to the Dark Side, Luke”?

Probably not. What happens in real life is far more subtle: your nice client just wants engagement and the fabulous social media metrics that go with it.

I was part of the early Internet Revolution, the ’90s dot-com bubble, the Web 2.0 and “user-generated content” movements — all the stuff leading up to social. …

Originally published in PLAZM magazine Issue #30, 2011.

Nicholas Carr’s writing shows how much “deep thinking” can do for a person’s abilities to contemplate and communicate. In his recent bestseller, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, he lays out in clear, flowing prose the historical, cultural, and neurological pathways leading from ancient humans’ natural state of Homer Simpson-like distractedness to the focused, deep-thinking abilities engendered by the advent of technologies like written language and books. (See also Techgnosis by Erik Davis, who is also interviewed here.)

After the deep thinking phase? It would seem that, thanks…

Originally published in The Nugget newspaper, Sisters, Ore. Aug 2018.
Part Five of a series.

By T. Lee Brown

Time spent in nature, exercising, creative hobbies, socializing face-to-face, and spending quality time with loved ones: all are proven by research to improve mood, lessen anxiety, or have other positive health effects. Screens large and small, on the other hand, can produce a host of negative effects, including anxiety and depression. Photo by TL Brown.

Are you mired in Facebook depression, falling down rabbit holes of political news, losing sleep to Netflix and YouTube? Are Snapstreaks and Epic Tavern more important than exercising or keeping your grades up? Yeah, you’ve got a problem.

Even if it connects you with friends far away, even if following the play-by-play of Russian investigations makes you feel like a good citizen — excess device engagement drains your energy, time, and perspective. It’s hard to connect with real people or make…

by T. Lee Brown
Originally published in The Nugget newspaper, Sisters, Ore., Aug 2018

Oregon kids model the Phone Zombie look. Photo by TL Brown

The Norton family spends most of their free time playing or working in the great outdoors near the small town of Sisters, Oregon. They watch a few TV shows and play some video games, but place limits on screen time. It sounds like good old-fashioned common sense: people need fresh air and healthy activity, right?

Common sense has taken a hit in recent years, especially since online devices became handheld. Smartphones, tablets, and ubiquitous wi-fi hold children, parents, and everyone else in their sway. It’s no…

With all the fun and half the calories, being an aunt really satisfies

The author and her niece “fly” through the woods after the auntie’s first trip to Burning Man, while a nephew looks on.

There’s nothing like grocery shopping on a national holiday. Aisles teem with grumpy middle-aged men hauling cases of Miller Lite and buckets of salsa. Young low-lifes flex their tattoos and pocket soft-packs of Marlboros. And above the hustle and bustle can be heard a distinctive and soothing sound: the lively chatter of children.

Yes, holidays mean Family Shopping Trips. What joy to hear the fresh young voices screaming at their mothers: “Not the TreeTop apple juice! Get the Capri Sun. I want the coloring book!! I WANT…

Fear of being whiny, self-indulgent, or TMI can become a roadblock on the writer’s search for truth.

The author reads from her prose-poetry book “A Compendium of Miniatures” in Portland. What one reader will find intriguing, bold, and truthful, another will find neurotic, excessive, and overly personal. But the writer’s real wrestling match is not with readers and critics. Writers, particularly of memoir and personal essay, are often on a relentless hunt for the truth underlying their own narrative.

Whining is one of the many interesting voices writers can explore. Like yelling, it’s not something we want to do or hear all the time. Its uses are nevertheless profound. First, it helps expel annoying thoughts that flutter at the edges of our consciousness. Language is a kind of magic. Whining-magic exorcises small but persistent demons that might otherwise plague our non-whining writing time.

Second, writing in a whiny voice may unearth deep concerns, issues we might consider legitimate topics for publishable writing.

Tiffany Lee Brown

Writer, artist, mom, Plazm editor, Tarot reader, witch wandering the woods of Middle Oregon. .

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