(14) The Big Disconnect

Title: The Winter of Our Disconnect: How three totally wired teenagers (and their mother who slept with her iphone) pulled the plug on their technology and lived to tell the tale.
Publisher: Penguin
265 Pages
Genre: Memoir

Synopsis: Maushart decides to have her family take a six-month experiment into an unplugged life. No smart phones, ipods, laptops, game stations, hand held game devices, tv, or pc's. Easier said than done in a house with three digital native teenagers.  The first two weeks of the experiment Maushart also shuts off all the power in the house, hoping that in two weeks when it comes back on having no ipod won't be as important as the fact that they now can turn on a light or use the fans.  Internet is available outside of the house in wifi cafe's or friends houses.  The no technology zone only pertains to their home.

Review: I felt like Maushart was living in my home.  I've got three teenagers, two of which are very wired.  The third is an anomaly in this house.  She doesn't watch tv, hardly ever remembers to charge her cell phone and doesn't really listen to her ipod.  She is however completely addicted to her computer and watching anime through the computer in Japanese with subtitles.  Go figure.  The rest of us however are complete addicts.  Between facebook, twitter, you tube, downloading games, movies, surfing amazon and texting its like we have a IV of information flowing through us at all times (you know there is a problem when your kids text you from a room away instead of getting up and coming to talk to you).

I found Mausharts experiment refreshing, funny and scary at the same time.  The book was a mix of diary entry's and  well researched information on the effects of technology on the next generation and its terrifying.  The technology that we think is so helpful and necessary is often a distraction from real life.  Our relationships suffer as we forget how to interact, our work suffers from constant distraction, our sleep suffers from falling asleep to the dim lights of computers, ipods, or tv, our health suffers from not getting out to exercise and eating in front of computers etc and we find ourselves dependent on constant stimulation.  Her experiment should be a cautionary tale to all of us to unplug or at least limit our use of this technology and start living in the real world.

Mausharts book definitely made me realize how dependent and addicted I am to technology.  I am now very conscious of how many times I glance at my blackberry, or open the computer just to browse facebook.  I may not be turning off the internet and canceling my Fios subscription but it has definitely made me rethink how I use technology.

You may wonder if the experiment worked.  To an extent it did.  Of course the family was happy to get their technology back but they learned that boredom isn't such a bad thing, there is a life without technology, their sleep improved and when the cable was turned back on they didn't find themselves as enamored with it as before.