We lead tethered lives, we do. In one way or another, we are all attached to, in love with, or virtually addicted to one form of technology or another. We run into each other on sidewalks, too busy texting. We ignore our children , while we wait for important e-mail. We sit at bistro tables, look up movie titles, we can't seem to remember, meanwhile, a $20 Lyonnaise salad goes limp. Tragic tales, tragic times, on the social interaction front. Have we lost touch with reality?
As we go about our tech-drenched lives houses grow silent, books collect dust and feelings get ignored. Real emotion takes a side car as we cruise down techno-lane. Technology distracts us from the world at large. Have you ever tried to pry a sixteen year old boy away from his x box? Not an effortless task! Have you ever been so caught up in a page on your computer, that you ignored your phone ring, or your dog beg to go outside? I have. What is going on here? Is this really how I want to live? Will this techno-rage spell the end of real social interaction as we know it?
I am acutely aware of a techno- rift that has arisen in my home. I have two teenagers, each armed with a Macbook, courtesy of my daughter's prep school and a generous friend of my son's. For years, we had but one lowly desktop, for me to watch over. It served us well up to a point. Now I am a commanding officer in the tech- rental army, a.k.a. parental computer patrol. I check user history, Facebook content and cyber manners . I set limits, my children often overstep.
I did not allow video games in our home, until Nintendo released Wii fit. At last, I thought, a road to connect with my kids. My hopes were quickly dashed, as they lost interest soon after the end of their Christmas Break. Next came the onset of Guitar Hero. No go, my kids are not gentle souls, this hunk-o plastic junk could not withstand a daily beating. What is a mother to do? How shall I react to this onslaught of techno-fever?
Gone are the days of TV tag, go to my graveyard and neighborhood carnivals to raise money for muscular dystrophy. The world has changed drastically since then. How can I recreate some of that innocence I experienced as a kid for my own children? Is it even possible? I will now turn my laptop off, unplug for a while and give it more serious thought. In the meantime, where did I set that Wii remote, time for my virtual workout.
Oh, my, no! I think I feel a fever coming on.
*(A version of this story is an excerpt from this week’s Noticing newsletter. You can read more about Noticing here.) * In a rare interview, Italian auth...