Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Technology Postponed

Sometimes, late at night, when I am squinting at our very old school tube TV - it's flat-screen! - trying to make out the inning on the fuzzy little corner scoreboard as the sound periodically fades in and out inexplicably, sometimes, well, a lot, I truly wish I had a quaking-ass, high-as-hell-def, surround sound, blue-the-fuck-tooth capable television.

Sometimes, when I am at one of Zack's games, I wish I had a smartphone replete with weather apps and games and all that shit so I wouldn't have to actually pay attention to the never-ending final innings which are customarily a walkfest.  I could take cute photos and instagram them and post them on Facebook and look important all the while.

Sometimes, when I see a child advocate soothing a child about to get an IV with an iPad, talking and laughing about a silly pratfall on Phineas and Ferb as scary stuff goes on all around, alarms sounding and people asking questions as they urgently scurry in and out, I see how important and to what good that technology can be and can lead, and think, yeah, I'd like one of those.

Sometimes, when I see an ad for a car computer on wheels with twelve cup holders and as many DVD screens I really think I deserve that, imagining the possibilities and peaces of mind that it could offer on all the trips to and from stuff we take around here.

Sometimes it sort of pisses me off that I don't have all that stuff, but ...

We don't need a shrine to the television gods and, we already spend enough time worshiping at the makeshift altar we already have now.  It would seem invasive and unnatural to us and we'd probably stare until we turned to stone or get too close and melt our innocent wings.

We don't need another phone around here, I'd just cuss at it because I couldn't work it and I'd be tempted to check the Internet or, God Forbid, Twitter, escaping the boys when I was supposed to be enjoying the boys playing, playing with the boys or, in general, just being a boy.  With such a wondrous contraption at my fingertips I'd forget that I was already doing something more wondrous, more amazing, more fulfilling, more important than any hand held marvel could ever conjure up.

We don't need another reason to look down around here.  I can't imagine the heartbreak that is seeing a room full of family all looking down, isolated in a flock of angry birds or mesmerized by mining digital blocks, grunting monosyllabic answers to loving questions and heartfelt requests.

We don't need a motorized movie theater to get us around.  We don't need to see that movie we've seen a dozen times before, perhaps we'll just read the book we haven't read, or notice the golden dome on a new church, dangling from a crane, shimmering against the blue Ohio sky.

If we had a new TV would we still have family game nights and evenings after dinner enjoying a fire or drawing around the table, laughing and singing and joking?  Would we still have dance parties?  Would we still create and goof and play outside and inside with absolutely no agenda or score.

If I had a new smartphone would we still play hangman and tick-tack-toe on an old calendar page from Mom's purse as we nervously await the doctor or the dentist?  Would we still stand, holding hands, looking out at the western sky, wondering if that beautiful, purple thunderhead was coming our way or would miss us?

If we all had cutting edge tablets, would we still take a walk around the neighborhood or go for an evening swim or use the dictionary marveling at all the tasty new words we find on our way to finding out if 'sporange' is really a word or not?

If we had a new car, would we miss the smell and familiarity of the old truck?  Would we miss having to have a kid walk around the car to physically 'roll' up a window and the ensuing discussion about the way things were and why we 'dial' a phone and talk wistfully of long ago days and how things were when "you were a kid"?

If we had all I think we should, would we make this?

Yep, a scale drawing, on two pages, of our happy home with great details like "stares to basmint," a "kichen" and "gestroom" and a sort of small "grage" and plenty of "clost" space.  Not bad for a right handed kid with a broken right arm.

Or this?

The second floor is in red, the third is in green, no blue, the first is green, wait ... we only have two floors, whose house is this?

Would we still dream and hope and care and stare out into the cold December rain as it streaks across the window hoping it will turn to snow?

Would we still celebrate innocence and marvel at what we don't know, shaking our heads in disbelief at a book about the human body as the intricate, unbelievable systems reveal themselves to us in pages piling up upon each other?

Would we invent a game in the basement that's "okay to play with a cast because it's just kicking" and, after an hour of that, spend another hour making these?

It's the "Denvill  Nashenill Colleg" Daggers against those rascally Pennsylvana Ducks (formally the "Origami Ducks" but they changed it to just Ducks a few years back, it's a Liberal Arts school).

It's a complicated sport, not extreme, but gaining popularity.

My point is that I don't think I'd have the great stuff I document here if we'd have introduced a bunch of newfangled technologies at an early age.  Honestly, it takes a little more work, a little more time and a lot more attention to go all Mayberry like we do, but, it works for us.

So, I'll suffer the blurry scoreboard and the old truck and the text only phone and the limping laptop for one reason:  I want to extend their childhood as long as I can.  It's a messed up, confusing, sad and crazy world out there, but here, right now, it's alright.  Why, I ask, would I want to take that away from them?

Oh, and if I had all the stuff I thought we wanted would I ever hear a sentence from the backseat like like:

"Well, they don't call you The Cheetah for nothing."

No, no they don't ...



  1. "We don't need another reason to look down around here." Spot on. I wrote a piece called "Analog Dad" that you might enjoy, because you and I appear to see precisely eye to eye on this.

    Also, you would love New Zealand.

  2. Can I say as a family who has all that stuff (except the tv in the car - I hate tvs in cars), yes we still do all that stuff, just slightly different.

    My daughter writes lovely stories and plays on her laptop and prints multiple copies for all of us to take parts or emails it to her Nona for "edits". She and her brother and neighborhood kids go outside and come up with a skit and film a movie on iMovie.

    She spends hours playing with her dolls and making stop motion movies.

    But then, there are hours just spent riding her scooter with her brother outside or taking bike rides around the neighborhood. Or braving her first walk up to the main street, with just one other friend, to go to the ice cream shop.

    And we talk and laugh and sometimes text when we are not near each other. So, while some lose themselves in the digital world, it is a forgone conclusion.


    1. oops - it is NOT a foregone conclusion.