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Story Archives

Filtering by Tag: 2015-08-21


Janine Avril

By Janine Avril

People say that knowledge is power, but it’s more complicated than that. In the not so distant future, my future mother-in-law, Ellen, will learn whether she has the BRCA mutation—the BRCA is a tumor-suppression gene, and a mutation greatly increases the chance of breast cancer or ovarian cancer. Ellen, who suffered a bout of breast cancer last year and lost her own mother—a Holocaust survivor—to breast cancer, is boundlessly nervous about this information. In truth, if she had it her way, she would not have been tested for the gene at all. She is the type of person who would prefer the bliss of not-knowing. Yet, she chose to do the testing last week.

Ellen has two daughters, my future sister-in-law Amy and my partner Heidi. The possibility of BRCA has power over them in different ways. If Amy, a mother of three young children, learns she has BRCA, she would go to the extreme. She has already said so. She would preserve herself by removing any potentially affected body parts. Heidi, several years younger, has a different philosophy. She wants to have children eventually and holds out hope of breastfeeding them. She would rather wait to test for the gene until after she has children. Modern medicine can tell us what might be in our cards, but it cannot tell us how to play our hand.

I am just a bystander at the moment. I am not officially in this family yet. I have my own theories about what people should do, but they are just theories. Is knowledge power, or is it powerlessness?

How often do you feel powerless? 

What's the relationship between power and control in your life?


Janine Avril is the author of the memoir Nightlight.


Steve Goldbloom

By Steve Goldbloom


Like most people, I seem more fun on the Internet.

Have you ever considered how many hours we devote to filters, tags, likes, shares and other virtual currencies of validation?

I barely remember who I was before mobile technology—how I killed time between moments. I miss the spark of imagination that comes from being bored.

Being bored is a lost art now. Same goes for observing and listening. I mean really listening to people, especially strangers.

I miss being scared at parties, without the aid of a gadget to look busy.

My parents forbade me from going to a friend’s house to play video games. Now kids stay in and watch people they’ve never met play video games.

When did sharing an experience become more valuable than experiencing it?

You could say technology has created a culture of convenience. But you have to admit, it has turned us into an odd bunch.

The other day I had to double park my Prius for a minute so I flicked on the flashers and pulled over. In seconds, a strange woman opened the door and piled into the back seat.

She looked up from her phone and said “Oh, you’re not the Uber.” “No,” I said. “I am not Uber.”

Next time, I think I’ll keep going, if only to see who breaks first.


In your own struggle with technology, who or what is winning? 

Does technology increase or decrease your personal power?



Steve Goldbloom is a writer, producer, and performer best known for creating and starring in the PBS comedy series Everything But the News (2014).