Friday, November 26, 2010

Tuning out


"You aren't going to like my idea," he said, still hungover from a night of playing tiny video games he hadn't meant to play, on a tiny screen that is destined to make him go blind.

"Try me," I said, wishing for more sleep and less talk.

"I think we should turn off the TV, stow the cell phones and just enjoy Thanksgiving."

I suppose I can understand why he'd think I'd protest. Technology addiction isn't exactly like an addiction to chemical substances ... most folks can admit, at least in a social way, they are hooked.

Have cell phone, will check it ... several times ... a minute. It's the nature of the beast.

I didn't mention how irritated he'd gotten last week when I'd accidentally instituted a similar moratorium on electronic communication by forgetting to bring my cell phone to the grocery store. I found the lack of a phone to be refreshing and oddly liberating.

Everyone else thought it an inconsiderate affront to civility.

Not only was Ittybit unable to play Angry Birds whilst we drove, but The Husband couldn't call me several times to ask when I'd be coming home, or if I could pick up an extra tub of ice cream.

*Insert Heavy Sigh*

Truth is I don't want to be tethered to technology. I don't want to compulsively check for messages from perfect strangers. I'm tired of deleting sales pitches and propaganda. I'm tired of distinguishing which is which.

The idea of turning off cell phones and closing the doors on the "entertainment center" as we go about the work of turkey and trimmings is more than nice, it's nostalgic.

We turned on music and danced. The kids exercised their imaginations and their ability to play nice. The Champ turned his coat into a sled, and Ittybit, in turn, facilitated Magic Coat Rides between the dining room and the entry hall.

It wasn't anything special. It just was direct, and without a filter.

Yet we are unable to pull the plug entirely.

At 8 o'clock, we turned on the television to watch "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving." And then we saw exactly what we hadn't been missing:

Eighteen minutes of vintage, values-infused entertainment about the spirit of celebration hacked apart by 12 minutes of commercial "YOU NEED TO BUY THIS TOY" or "STORES OPEN AT MIDNIGHT WITH DOOR-BUSTER DEALS" interruptions.

"Where's Charlie Brown?" she protests the first time Walmart broke in on the entertainment.

"Walmart is holding him hostage until they get a chance to sell us on shopping there."

"Well ... Do we have to shop there to see it again?"

"No, honey. Our policy is not to deal with terrorists."

"Well ... What DO we DO then?"

"We just tune them out."

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