Family ties to technology

I didn’t have a good weekend. It rained all day Saturday and we were running around all day Sunday because it was Mother’s Day. Of course the daughter decided that Sunday would be a day she would grind against the grain of everyone else and, as much as I love her, single-handedly ruined an otherwise good day with family. I’m starting to notice a pattern though and will be putting in some strict restrictions on the use of anything that contains a screen and run on electricity. She lost her iPhone for 4 weeks because of her last quarter grades. We both noticed a marked improvement in her attitude and behavior that regressed literally an hour or two after she got it back. The girl is hopelessly addicted to all things screen and her typical “I’m not stopping until I want to” attitude always gets in the way. My wife doesn’t help matters either as she is just as addicted to her mobile as well and it’s been a struggle to hold a conversation with her that wasn’t disconnected and unintelligible. I’ve since refused to talk with her when her attention is on the phone screen as I already know, you can’t multi-task with an electronic device, it just isn’t possible. Anyone out there who thinks they can multi-task; verbal conversation and use their phone, they’re just fooling themselves and doing two things barely mediocre.

My level of frustration the last few weeks has unfortunately gone up. My wife tells the daughter to stop yelling at her, yet my wife yells at her to stop yelling. It really is counter-productive in my opinion. I, on the other hand, have manged to keep my tone and outward display of anger to a minimum (for the most part) as it tends to get better results. Our daughter is old enough to know and understand the impact of what she says and how she says certain things, so there really is no excuse for downright disrespect for the sake of exercising control despite her losing the privileged of what she’s trying to control. The whole thing is just counter-productive and doesn’t really make any sense to me. The daughter refuses to do anything when she’s on her phone, playing what I consider real stupid time-suck games, and only listens to either of us once we’ve taken the phone away. Then of course its a fight to get her to do what we’re asking because now she’s angry she lost her phone as a result of her own actions; but it’s our fault, always.

The evaluation of technology in my life is taking a very dark and negative turn, to the point where I get frustrated with anyone using a device near me when I’m trying to say or do something. I’ve respected them by putting my phone, laptop, etc. down but rarely get that in return. The old adage “lead by example” just doesn’t seem to fit when technology is involved. I’m not even going to the “do unto others” space right now. My wife has conveniently forgotten, consistently, that I deleted Facebook and has conversations with me based on Facebook information. When I say I’m not on Facebook anymore, she’s reminded that I abandoned the platform and just stops talking; the subject doesn’t change, she just stops and returns to the screen. I just don’t get it. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, at least that’s what we’ve been told for years, but all I ever see is the negative side of it. People who can’t hold a conversation unless it’s in text form. Social gatherings consist of an entire table of people on their phones. Parents hold up iPads at recitals to “record” their children without a seconds thought of the 9.4″ of blocking capability the iPad produces for the people behind them. Having a conversation with someone under the age of 30 consists of “so”, “like” and “uhm” being practically every fourth word. Call me crazy, but I don’t say any of those words when holding conversation with people. Hearing them tossed at me just derails my train of thought and makes it difficult to actually listen.

There are days that I wish someone would set off an electro-magnetic pulse bomb rendering anything electronic essentially a brick. Our civilization would literally fall apart in the span of a few days though, so it’s not a wish rooted in logic. It’s a wish rooted in frustration, as in “See, technology doesn’t make anything better, none of you can actually hold a conversation to literally save your lives.” Our futures in this world are in jeopardy if we can’t learn to ride the fine line between technology assistance and technology addiction. The Internet was commercially available around 1992, anyone born after that date has never lived without it. What ever happened to learning the hard way first in order to appreciate the easy way second?

8 thoughts on “Family ties to technology

  1. Ah those growing pains of our children…..I wish I could tell you it will get better….but I would be lying and I like you so I will lie to you. My granddaughter is in that generation….she will have her phone going, her tablet will be blaring and her TV is on…..but I can bring her back and we sit and talk and I try to get her interested in something besides electronics…..does not always work but all we can do is try. Good luck you will need it…LOL chuq

  2. My son isn’t addicted to screens — some days he won’t even pick one up — but that mood change after he’s been on one for more than half an hour and has to get off is something else.

  3. Some of us are old enough to remember the days before the technology revolution. I remember when my 4th grade teacher promised to paddle my rear end if I didn’t learn long division by the end of the noon recess and I told her then that in a few years there would be no need for people to work “Problems” in Math out manually on paper or in their heads because there would be little things you could carry in your hand that would do all the complicated work for you. She was not impressed and I got the paddling. I remember when my 8th grade teacher swore that no one could ever build a rocket engine powerful enough to escape earth’s gravity — that was in 1955. Believe it or not we had our own sources of frustration before the technology thing … Television became the first distracting pain in the rear end that could divide families and cause contention inside of social units … it was only a taste of the horrors to come. It is almost impossible to make eye contact with a human any more because they always have their nose in a cell phone or something or are admiring the selfies they have taken of themselves … compulsively … almost every minute of the day. I hear you and I know where you are coming from.

  4. “The old adage ‘lead by example’ just doesn’t seem to fit when technology is involved.”
    No truer words. I don’t understand how a screen is more compelling than a real life experience, but obviously most people feel that the screen surpasses human interaction. Thus this weird addiction to something that isn’t where you are in preference to something that is where you are.
    I, too, find it insulting. But realize that if a person values what’s on the screen more than me, then no amount of modeling the behavior I’d like to see will get that person to pay attention to me, the real world, life. I fear for our future, because people are ignoring reality constantly, instead of engaging with it.
    No solution to the problem, just commiseration here.

  5. Based on this post, I think you might really enjoy … no, appreciate … Neil Postman’s book Technopoly. He touches on technology in most or all of his books, but is able to dive deeper in a book focused on technology. It helped clarify frustrations and concerns I’d had before. Surrounded by people who are enchanted with technology for technology’s sake, this was the first time I really got to see expressed–eloquently–things I’d felt but had neither historical knowledge nor vocabulary to describe for myself. Reading it, I got to the point where, well, even typing this makes me feel a little squeamish. It feels wrong, for reasons that … are well expressed in Technopoly, and why I have breathed much easier being more offline.
    (I, too, get frustrated by the presence of devices everywhere these days. We’re working on a no-electronics-at-the-table rule. There ought be at least one place free of tiny glowing screens!)

    • I’m riding a fine line between too much and to little technology. I also make my feelings known when I perceive that I’m competing for attention against tech. While still using it, I don’t let it define what I decide to do each day.

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