vendredi, novembre 27, 2009

Bowling Alone -- Together

"We are in the middle of a revolution" I said to my ex as we sat in his living room, sated with turkey (him) and sweet potatoes (me) and his fabulous apple crisp (both of us.) "We're struggling to keep up so hard that we really don't understand what it means."

Downstairs, our son and daughter were playing Guitar Hero on the Wii. Next to me on the sofa, the "on" button of the DQ's Netbook blinked blue, waiting for her to return. Upstairs in my ex's bedroom, an LCD television that my ex, who mostly watches sports, cedes to our daughter for Disney movies.

As my kids remind me, often, I don't have the good toys at my house. Our television is a young, robust, 10 year old (maybe older, she lies about her age). The computer downstairs takes about ten minutes to load AIM and Mr. C's chess websites. But for Christmas (don't tell them) I'm surrendering enough to buy an LCD television for the downstairs. I may even go wild and begin forking out an enormous amount for some extra channels.

Go on, call me a mini-geezer (sometimes I feel like one). But those of us born before 1990 recall when the phone was in the hall, or the kitchen, not under the pillow. If you wanted to use a computer, you had to sit, by and large, in a public space. Even if you wanted to be available 24/7, at a restaurant or in church, it wasn't possible.

The downside of the technological revolution is how easy it becomes to isolate ourselves. At her dad's house, my daughter can take her Netbook downstairs and disappear for hours. He won't let her text, which I heartily applaud -- but she and I battle over keeping the cell phone (she's already lost four or five) in her room at night.

Another dilemma? It's become very easy to hide things you don't want others to see. A researcher I interviewed for a story on sexual misconduct among clergy commented on the fact that it's very easy now to start a tryst privately, via email and cell phone calls, developing a language of intimacy before the actual snogging starts (well, she wasn't that crude).

Did you know that Wii bowling leagues are a hot number among seniors? Last week an NPR segment on tech innovations for older folks noted that there are at least 86 American leagues.
They seemed to consider this a step forward. I'm not so sure. I can see grandma and grandpa standing in front of television screens, miming the game they used to play until bad backs and knees caught up with them. Virtual reality for the senior set? Is this a positive?

Not to mention what this does to relationships -- more on that in my next post.

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