Thursday, July 8, 2010

Technology and the Fast Pace and Loud Volume of Living

When I was a kid, a very little kid, I remember silence.

Momz was a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom).  This was the late 1970's, when such arrangements were a little more common.  We had two TV's, in those days: a luxurious, 19-inch color TV with a state-of-the-art antenna in the living room, and a 13-inch portable black-and-white with rabbit ears in my parents' room.  In  that far-off time, there were no remote controls: the television set had two dials that had to be changed by someone getting up, walking to the TV, changing the channel, adjusting the antenna, stepping back, frowning thoughtfully, adjusting the antenna again, being told to stop, adjusting the antenna again, then returning to the couch with an expression of remorse and anger.  This process would be repeated until we found something "on."  Commercials, in those days, were something we endured patiently.  No one "surfed" channels back then.  If we had even had the concept, we wouldn't have called it "surfing."  "Channel trudging," maybe, or "channel snow-shoeing," but not something as fluid and sporty as surfing.

In those golden times, we watched a little TV in the morning, then turned off the television.  Sometimes, we would listen to the record player (you heard me).  The Carpenters were a favorite, as was the Sound of Music soundtrack.  Neil Diamond was something to be saved until we were older and emotionally mature enough to handle the powerhouse that is Neil, but John Denver was deemed an acceptable, though daring, replacement.

Regardless of our activities, every day at noon, the music was silenced, the TV's were off, and we had "quiet time" for about 2 hours.  My sister and I were allowed to play quietly, or read, but we had to stay in our room and be quiet for two hours.

And we did it.  Almost every day, in fact.

What happened?  My kids do okay, but two hours of near silence in the middle of the day?  No, that's not happening, and it's not them, it's me.

I've always got something to do, it seems.  I've got dishes to wash, or laundry to fold, or a floor to vacuum.  I've got friends to chat with on Facebook, or an e-mail to reply to, or a voice mail to act upon.  If I've got a story to write or a book to read, I always think it can wait until later, but later never comes.  I have at least 4 DVD's that I haven't even taken out of the wrapper, two of which are over 2 years old.  I've got books I've never read.

This technology that we have, that can be such a blessing, has made things so complicated, I'm not even sure it's worth it anymore.  Imagine a time when, if you were unreachable, you were truly unreachable.  When some SAHM's didn't even have a car because it was okay to just stay at home all day and keep your house clean and spend time with your kids.  When you eagerly awaited seeing a movie in the theater because that was the only place you could see movies.  When there were times when there was nothing on TV.

I'm all for progress, and I love technology.  I just wish our ability to manage our time had grown as fast.


Kristina P. said...

I agree. I can barely go 2 minutes without looking at my phone.

Mr. and Mrs. Nurse Boy said...

You just described my childhood. I always think that sounds dreamy, until I have to live it. I am not a quiet person!

Mrs. Nurse Boy

Barbaloot said...

I don't remember you being there for my childhood...? It all sounds quite familiar, though. Especially the Neil Diamond:) Although, being that I was in the 80s, we had an actual remote for our TV.

I think the thing I sometimes miss the most, is being truly unreachable. I've lost my cell phone once or twice and I actually enjoy the quiet when it happens:)

Boy Mom said...

You write so beautifully! I was instantly back in the 70's curled up on the avocado green couches with my 10 siblings listening to the flies buzz and my Mom's voice reading The Little Princess.

I miss those quieter times too.

Glenene said...

Yeah.... I did the quiet time thing too. It preserved my sanity! And we read some great stuff in the summer. "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" the book is a million times better than the movie!

Joy and Dennis said...

Me too to Glenene's comment. We had quiet time every afternoon and it worked for us, and yes we too read books...Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was one of our favorites. After we read it, we rented the movie and were SO disappointed in it!