Then and now

My radio partner, Amy Chodroff, and I had a conversation yesterday (570 AM KLIF, Dallas, TX) with a man who proposes we all learn to disconnect from our social gadgets just one day a week. Think about that: no Facebook, no Twitter, no My Space, no Google Plus, no Instagram, no Pinterest, no e-mail, no texting, no nothing:

Just you and the people you can see in real time and space.

I remember decades ago, before Cyber World Genesis, when people were making similar suggestions about technologies and social habits that would seem quaint to us now. “Turn off the TV one night a week”, they said. “Get reacquainted with your family. Talk about your day. Play a board game. Make popcorn.”

It really does sound nice, doesn’t it?

All the way back to my own childhood in the fifties and sixties I can remember the social psychologists urging families to always eat dinner together at the table. It suggested we strive for TV family perfection. Dad would be there smiling in his sweater and tie, Mom would be fresh as a daisy after a day spent driving a vacuum and an iron and then wrangling dinner in the kitchen. We could have funny conversations like the Cleaver family.

It all sounds wonderful but what I remember from my real life family dinners is complaints about the food, being scolded for the griping, Dad grousing about some idiot at work and dear Mom trying to hold it all together. Not always, of course, but often enough that I learned early that nostalgia isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Like it or not, family and social dynamics change with culture which is largely driven by technology.

Nobody sends handwritten letters anymore. Gone are the summer nights on a blanket in the front yard together watching the stars come out. Rocking chairs on the front porch over a pitcher of lemonade and shared tales of greater glories past are the stuff of fanciful memory and our social fabric.

It’s good to remember the past but a terrible mistake to try to live there.

I think I may give this disconnecting idea a shot, occasionally. Maybe not once a week, like on a schedule. Just occasionally, like opening a shoe box filled with old pictures. It’s fun.

But I’m not going to stress about it.

Author: Dave

Dave Williams is a radio news/talk personality originally from Sacramento, now living in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Carolann. They have two sons and grandsons living in L.A.

7 thoughts on “Then and now”

  1. Dave, I think I would rather enjoy the memories and share them with my kids. We have to move forward. Our kids will tell similar stories to their kids about the “good old days”. I can only imagine those stories! Thanks for sharing your blog… I know when I am camping, I do not miss the gadgets at all while out there, but as soon as I get home, I am back on the computer!!

  2. I’m with you – about not stressing. I fully embrace the advantages of technology and my real life already includes big chunks of disconnected time. So – I’m willing to let nostalgia stay right where it is – in stories and songs and the tales we tell on blogs.

  3. Dave, that’s an insightful essay written from the perspective of a firm grip on reality. The appeal of nostalgia dims with consideration of what accompanies living in the past. Sure, a gallon of gas in the late ’50s cost 25 cents and homes sold for $12,000; but minimum wage was a buck an hour, and $400 a month was a generous salary. More importantly, a return to life in the ’50s would be at the daydreamer’s own peril. So many of the life-saving medical technologies and techniques that we take for granted today were unavailable, and so many ailments that are easily detected and cured today were inexorably lethal back then. Upon close examination, the good old days weren’t all that good.

  4. My favorite memories when the boys were growing up wasn’t the time spent at the table but the times we played Hide and go Seek in the dark on cold winter nights in the house. Of course they could always find me because where I went Sierra went. Just find the dog and you found mom! I hope they remember those times as fondly as I do. And I could use a day with you with NO electronics 🙂

  5. Dave, I loved your essay. It made me laugh. But you are correct there really was no Cleaver dinner table at house either. But I do think that more families do need to connect whether at the dinner table or somewhere else. We have a rule in our large family, no cell phones at the dinner table. That does help, but one or two of the teenagers think it is stupid.

  6. The idea of unplugging once in a while has merit. I doubt many of us could get through a full day each week totally disconnected but I have to disagree about the dinner hour. I have no nostalgia about those I had as a child which is why in our home it was and is sacrosanct. The only electronic allowed was/is quiet music. Discipline was never meted. Poor test results or report card were for later. We told stories and jokes from the day, discussed history, politics, philosophy you name it. That’s still the dinner rule here and the meal is scheduled so that all can be present if at all possible. Even the grandchildren now look forward to dinner with Grandma’s rules, even if they have to put the phone down for a while.

  7. I love love love to read your blogs…always brings a warm feeling over my heart! BUT…the one thing I still do is sit in my swing on the front porch, with more like a Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and share old stories with my friends!! Keep up the fantastic blogging cuz!!

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