An Electronic Family

An Electronic Family

It was family time. In the living room, an hour or so before supper following a day at the beach. Father, two daughters, two grandparents. I don’t remember where the mother was. Silence, broken only by an occasional “click, click” or a laugh or sigh, or grunt. No eye contact.

  Meet the electronic family of the 21st. Century. Plenty of family communication except that it wasn’t with each other. All communicating, connecting with the world, its sights and sounds, its coming and goings, its variety. A world that doesn’t talk back unless you permit it - unless it’s an electronic game.

  At a table five feet away, the father, eyes glued to his iPad and the latest ball scores. The grandmother, the same, checking out Facebook. One granddaughter, ears plugged, listening to music. The other texting a friend. Me, watching, left hand on my holstered smart phone, ready to check messages, scores, latest news. I said something. No one looked up. A murmured sentence and someone said “huh?”. I chuckled and lit up my smart phone.

  I’m not a complaining Only observing. It’s a reality check. It’s the way things are. Besides, I remember when television emerged and grew and grew, and the comments were similar. No one talked with each other and no imagination required (as compared to radio). The world didn’t come to an end though I remember yelling at my children to turn the tv off and clean up the room.

  One of those children raised his kids observing a two week moratorium on tv each summer. Another escapes periodically, with the children, to a remote section of Vermont where there is no television reception and no tv in the cottage, no phone or cell phone reception. Daylight is pumped in. Another didn’t care one way or another, but insisted upon uninterrupted and focused conversations unless it was football time.

  Another, combines all of the above, but lots of physical or “let’s go here” activity. Another focuses mostly on a laptop computer and the tv. The last, and younger one, is an electronic, what’s the latest, junkie who uses the devices for access to just about everything. And all the grandchildren (except maybe one who’s only a bit over one-year-old) are with it and quietly tolerate the elders’ relative technological illiteracy.

  In the meantime, I’m trying to catch up or just keep up with the rapid technological changes so that I can communicate even if conversation is filtered (and recorded and followed by “them”) by an electronic device. My wife resisted, or ignored, all this until a couple of months ago. That was when one of her technically hip friends and I started comparing smart phones and their applications. Somehow, as we punched, touched, and slid our fingers around tiny screens, she got left out, forgotten, a part of the background only.

  This won’t happen again. That’s all it took for her to jump into the electronic world. She’s now iPad savvy and even texting on her not-so-smart phone. She’s looking forward to the video phoning experience.

  All in all, I’m not too worried about where this is going even if the new electronics foment revolutions. Though maybe I am a little worried about who is tracking us and how information about us can be and probably will be used. Other than that, all I know is that each generation thinks that the one following it is “going to hell”.

  In the meantime, I deal with the basics such as “Honey, aren’t you listening to me?”


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