While the genuine thinker longs for nothing more than he longs for leisure, the ordinary scholar flees from it because he does not know what to do with it. His consolation lies in books: that is to say he listens to what someone else thinks and in this way he lets himself be entertained throughout the long day. He chooses especially books which in some way or other excite his personal sympathies, which permit him, through the arousal of like or dislike, to feel some emotion: that is to say, books in which he himself, or his class, his political or aesthetic or even merely grammatical dogmas, are the subject of discussion; and if there is a field of study in which he specializes he never lacks means of entertainment or flyswatters against boredom.
— Nietzsche, “Schopenhauer as Educator,” Untimely Meditations
Smartphones have taken the place of books these days, but the scene remains the same. There’s one house I pass on my way to town — whether morning, afternoon, or evening, the man and woman who live there are always sitting on chairs on the front porch, sometimes together, sometimes alone, but always with their chins nearly touching their chests, staring onto their phone screens, motionless except for their scrolling fingers. I wonder if future anthropologists will find twenty-first century skeletons with curved neck vertebrae and arthritic index fingers and wonder what sort of disease or malnutrition caused these curious deformations.