Yesterday, I lost my internet connectivity. While I was not a “lost soul” without it, I did have a story in mind that I wanted to post. Since the problem didn’t get resolved until today, I utilized my time doing other things including some yoga and finally sat down to watch Oprah (which I hadn’t been able to do for a while).
She did a piece on challenging families to put down all of their technologies and re-connect with your family, for one week. I found it very interesting that the two families who agreed to that challenge, were sweating over not being able to text, use the internet, play video games, blueberry or blackberry (or whatever in the hell that shit is actually called) and it was foreign concept for them to just be together as a family.
Without sending out a hint on how old I actually am (not that I’m that old either), I was floored that this would be a challenge for a family. You see, we grew up playing board games, eating dinner together every night (eating out was a treat, not the norm), playing outside, going to the park, taking road trips and actually singing together along the way, and we even did our home version of the Soul Train dance line! I played my clarinet, sketch and was pretty good with a sewing machine too. As a young child, I was pretty creative if I didn’t want to play in the hot sun. And again, when dinner time rolled around, we always ate together as a family and we would talk to each other during that time too.
Yesterday’s challenge sickened me to my stomach, because I could not believe how hard it was for both families in this challenge to commit to the task. There was complaining and murmuring in the first few days, and at one point, some members of each family was displaying signs of ‘withdrawal’ (like the shit is crack) that we’ve become so effectively hooked on. I was actually yelling and cussing at my television a few times while watching this!
I began to wonder why this was irritating me so much and then a ‘light’ went off! I was frustrated because I’d been trying to figure out where a portion of the break down in the family unit is coming from. Technology! It is holding us captive! We are voluntary slaves to this mess too! It also solved in my mind why some teens might be committing suicide too. They are so disconnected from their parents, and their parents to them, they don’t feel connected enough to talk about their lives or what may be hurting them so deeply.
One of the families had a fourteen year old daughter who had a cell phone (a fuckin’ cell phone at 14 years old—BOO MUTHAFUKAS, BOO), and an expensive ass laptop. She was one of the two who was displaying withdrawal symptoms and even mentioning that she did not want to hang out with her parents because; “that is not cool”, according to her. Her breakthrough finally came one day and for the first time in a long time (according to her mother), the daughter began to open up and just talk to her mother about what was going on in her life. Her mother was equally bad though– she was addicted to her laptop too. But when her mother finally realized how much she’d lost a connection with her daughter, she had her epiphany. It was short lived, if you will. At the end of that weeks’ challenge, the Oprah staff hit the families with a surprise—they challenged them to another week! I thought that was golden! I can only assume that in their minds, 7 days is all they would have to do. Oprah was very smart at further challenging them because that mom was not down with a second week. So the family voted on it, and mom was out voted (thank goodness). By the second week (14 short days), the family began to get it. Their young son, was active in a few sporting activities, but the entire family had never participated—wild isn’t it?! But they were all finally starting to get it and become re-connected again. Wow, wow, wow!!! How can you not attend a child’s activities is all I could think of. I’m not saying you should attend their practices, but the actual games? Wow!
This experiment was a real eye opener for me in that it exposed just how far out of touch we are with one another. So no wonder kids do some of the things that they do, and no wonder parents will opt to work late in order to climb the “almighty corporate ladder for success”, so that they can… you guessed it… buy more shit we really don’t need! I have a basic cell and a computer. And until I started this Blog site, I absolutely was not on the computer every day (shit—even with the blog site, I won’t be on the computer every day). It solved my personal query on why some families fall apart—technology is effectively tearing us down… slowly, but surely. We, at Why O’ Why want to always put our best effort forward with some of our postings, so if I had to pose some questions for you to ponder on this (very detailed posting), let me start with just a few that come to mind:
1) Have you become the “drug pushers” for your children’s addiction to technology and your children’s disconnect as part of the family?
2) Have you set a bad example of this addiction and absenteeism yourselves?
3) Are you involved in your children’s activities?
4) Do you prefer the television to quality time with your family?
5) Do you have dinner together every night as a family, or do you all grab your plates and go to “your respective corners” for more isolation?
I’ll never profess that my family was “perfect” by any means, but we certainly didn’t have the same distractions as we (obviously) do today. While I do think that our government (and some of the programs they have) can be blamed for a lot of things, I think we are individually and collectively responsible for our own families. My final question; does Oprah’s experiment reflect your family in any way and lastly, do you want your family back? Speak on this one you guys, because I’ve just got to know!