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Chatterbox: Down the rabbit hole


Many years ago, Chatterbox talked about a conversation I had with my son when he was in high school. He was complaining that we still had dial-up. (Remember dial-up? I loved the beeps, whirrs, and rotating wheel of that oh-so-slow connection.)

Anyway, I chatted with him about trips to the library, the Dewey Decimal System, researching for weeks in dozens of books that we couldn’t take out of the library, transferring dozens of notes and information from index cards, repeatedly updating the sequence, into one cohesive, grade-A, term paper or verbal report. That clamped the complaints for good.

Today, computerized everything has changed every facet of our lives. The advancements are good and, yet, can become frustrating and detrimental. We’ve discussed the distraction that they are to the point of being a safety hazard. From the ignored baby on the airport floor while her mom read her phone, to pedtextrians walking and texting being hit by building doors opening, other pedtextrians, and even cars while mesmerized by the glowing Svengali in the palm of their hand. People have become so addicted they’re on their phone in restaurants while the people they’re lunching with are ignored. It has passed the point of rudeness and gone down the rabbit hole of tech-addiction.

The magic, the lure, the seduction of technology and all its benefits creep in surreptitiously. Few haven’t been seduced by the constant entertainment and distraction, self-awareness and even misuse of the instant, constant, ubiquitous availability of all that technology offers. Moreover, now, they travel on our wrist, in our palms, to school (where they should never be allowed on campus), to plays, concerts, weddings … everywhere we go.

We all understand the necessity of using our omnipresence via technology for safety purposes. We get that, but while in company, there is no other purpose for this techno-invasion, no other reason for this information weapon to be drawn.

There is a dark seductive addiction to many things … including all technology. It’s an epidemic, and, as an addictive behavior, is particularly bad for kids. We’ve all been privy to the tirades, push-back, disobedience, verbal volleyball, the negotiating and neglecting of duties, chores, and even schoolwork because someone has opted for “technology.” Now, battling tech and the television, we’ve all seen even adults leave a room full of people celebrating a birthday or holiday, only to take the cyber option, parking in front of tech, the television or video games.

Such things are for empty moments wherein we seek distraction or even relaxation. No one worries when, while winding down from a long day, we grab a tall water or a hot tea, elevate our feet and reach for the remote, our laptop, or our phone. It’s not only understandable; it’s fairly commonplace, but there is a price being paid when people simply cozy up with the WorldWide Web while losing precious time with small children who adore them or family that has come to visit them, or when they miss vital conversations that affect them or require their input.

The dark seduction that is technology is definitely a growing, quiet addition. It’s more than mere habit, make no mistake about that. Obviously not a physical addition, it still remains a behavioral addiction. This is one reason why we are met with such feisty responses when we interrupt or curb the process, pull the privileges, or remark about the invasive processes of technology to the participants in the behavior.

A million years ago, when my Fred Flintstone generation was raising children, everyone was touting Nintendo. My children weren’t allowed to have one which made them very unhappy, and those who wanted my family to join in the techno-fracas repeatedly touted the “hand-eye coordination” benefits it offered.

Most Chattereaders know I grew up in a neighborhood environment. We played city games, many of which involved pink Spalding balls. Talk about your hand-eye coordination; go ahead, pop that puppy against a set of steps and lose track of it. Nothing encourages hand-eye coordination like a Spalding, “splat,” right to the face.

My children are parents now. Their coordination is fine. Their brains function normally, and every time we overhear anyone’s children give push-back over tech-time, my husband and I mutter, “Still not sorry our kids never had Nintendo.”

As imperative as the “information highway” may be, it must remain in its place. It’s an exercise in discipline to keep it there, but a skill well worth striving to develop … and enforce.