Screen Time by Mary Valle

My daughter said that one of her friends had told her that there's a certain amount of hair in cookies and cream ice cream.

"Hair permissible?" I said. "I think that's just in case you find one, so you don't sue the ice cream company."

"No," said Margaret. "Actual hair that's put in there on purpose. Ella read it on the Internet."

"Dear," I said. "Please don't believe that just because something's written down, it must be true. That applies times infinity to things written on the internet."

"It's full of things that aren't true," nodded my daughter. "Right?"

"Yes, unfortunately. You just have to be careful about what you believe, especially on the internet."

Margaret paused and mulled this over. Then she asked, with a certain amount of heroic-lawyer-delivering-the-climactic-question-right-to-the-jury, "Then why do people worship it like it's a God?"

"I don't know," I said. "I guess people just like looking at screens. I know I do."

"People worship it like it's a God!" she repeated, shaking her head in the way of children who are absolutely appalled by the gross behavior of their elders. "And most of it isn't true? Why do they?"

I sighed. "I don't know, sweetheart."

As I sometimes do, I flashed back and forward. Back to hours upon hours of my mom talking on the phone with much more interest than she ever seemed to have when engaging with her offspring — not that I blame her  and forwards, to my daughter in college, saying to a friend "I remember my mom watching old commercials on a big white laptop, and it kind of gave me a funny feeling."

Mary Valle lives and writes in Baltimore. Follow her at @marykvallePhotograph by Ame Laeyendecker.