Thursday, October 21, 2010


I grew up in a world before the technology of today surfaced. I'm sure each generation has something to say about the change.

Quite obviously there is a big change with each one.
That we already know that.

I remember the yellow phone cord being stretched around the kitchen wall into the living room where it attached to the piece that was pushed up against my Mom's ear, as she sat on the stairs and chatted away with the same people. It drove me crazy.

I can remember those moments as clear as day, although I was only a little girl.
There was no cordless phones yet, definitely not "you've got mail," or even unlimited long distance. You called beyond 15miles and you would pay a crap load of money.

Which is why whenever she'd speak to her parents, she'd call them, ring once, hang up, and they'd call back. My Grandma and Grandpa didn't want my parents paying the cost of dialing from one county to the next.

I remember dreading the phone time because she would just disappear into the yellow ear and mouth piece. (What was the correct name for that anyway? I'm stuck on earpiece.)

I could never understand why; a) she could sit that long and talk to her mother in law, mom, or sisters, b) she'd get so annoyed with us if we tried to get her attention
c) when the conversation was over, after she had hung up the phone, you could expect a "lecture" on respect. On what was deemed rude; walking up to her when she was on the phone, and talking to her about a certain need we had at that moment in our life, without first saying, "excuse me," or, "pardon me."

Drove me crazy.

As a parent now, and it can apply to anyone, but you realize more about your parents when you truly become one. No matter what makes you become a parent, by birth, by marriage, by choice or by surprise, the moment your children are old enough to talk, you get what you put your parents through.

You become annoyed at the very.same.things.they.did. Except you gain far more understanding because your parents had limited options when it came to communication(s).

As a young girl, my Mom never talked to my Dad during the day. He was at work, and granted he was a plumber, but still, if there was an emergency, if one of us were sick and required a visit to the ER, she'd call the office, speak to the secretary, and leave a message. The secretary would then advise the boss, and the boss, or another one of the plumbers at the shop at the time, would drive out to the location where my dad was, to deliver him the message.

I wonder if the same went for any of you who's parents had a true desk job. Did your Mom actually call your dad during the day? From what I can recall with my young friends and their parents careers, the Mom's never called the Dad's during the day, to chat. It was frowned upon, and I'm pretty certain it was not really a respectful thing to do, even if the Dad ran the company.
It was an obvious understanding that work is work, and personal time is personal time.
You didn't mix the two at all. Adults of yesterday saw that, and honored that. They knew the "pardon me" and "excuse me" rules that come with making a living and supporting a family.

If for some reason you needed to reach your working spouse, you would have one way to do so; use of the warehouse/shop/office/building/gas station pay phone.

But if you didn't have any change with you?
"Fuddle sticks!"
You forgot to empty your work pants from the day before. All that much needed change sat at home, snug in the pickle jar that your wife had on the shelve near the laundry supplies. Because Mom's back then, checked pockets for everything.
Do you?

Thankfully back then, if you found yourself out of change, there was that option to make a "collect call." Quick fix, back then, if you didn't have any change. But oh boy did you pay for it when your phone bill arrived-especially if the at home parent made a local toll call beyond 15miles and stayed on the phone for roughly 15minutes. Your bill would be insane! Hell, the charges alone for local toll were bad enough, mix in the collect call charge, game over.

In a sense this is exactly today's version of those payday loan companies. A quick fix due to the fact that you were out of "change," a quick hand over of your pay stub and you're golden for the time. But oh boy did you pay for it in interest when the time arrived for pay back!

When you think about how blessed/cursed we are today, to have so many media options to stay socially connected, and yet, as parents, we still get annoyed at our kids when they interrupt us texting someone, or emailing friends, or blogging. We have so many more options then our parents did to stay in touch, and yet it still interferes with our children.

We should be less likely to get ticked at our children with all that we have today. My Mom was a stay at home Mom, she didn't have much of a life outside of the house raising 5 children. Her escape was talking to her Mother in law, Mom, or sisters on the phone. Being limited to the length of the ever tangling yellow phone cord that we would turn into monkey bars when she really was ignoring us.

It must have hurt like hell to have that phone piece pulled from under the poor Mom's ear, as she used her shoulder to hold up the rest of the phone so she could stir the boiling egg noodles on the stove top at the same time.

That was what technology of yesterday dubbed, "multi-tasking."

My Mom was limited. She didn't call my Dad at work, because you just didn't do that.
He was there for a reason, to do his job, to work, that was an expected, and unless it was an emergency, you did not call Dad at work.

My goodness, even when it came to the TV, my Mom was limited. She'd have to get up and walk to the TV to not only turn it on, but to turn the knob to pick the right channel that aired her favorite soap opera. If she happened to have to pick a child up from school, she would miss the episode. No going back. (No, my Mom didn't do soap operas, but you get where I'm going with this.)

She was limited.
My Mom without a doubt gave more to us and gave up more for herself, then I believe I do now.

I've thought of this before, and written of it before, and yet I'm still modeling the same habits.

I cannot imagine how my boys must feel when they are trying to get my attention and I am too busy texting, to notice them. Or when I am online, and they want to go outside and play; how I can just tune them out, focusing on another world inside wires and gadgets to make me feel "connected to the real world."

Are you kidding me??!!
The real world is the one where my children need me.
Talk about a Matrix of confusion.

Before the promoters get all puffy, yes, it is okay to have some "me time." The "yellow phone cord" version of me time today. But talk about how much we take advantage of all that we have today to be unlimited. Or "real." Sadly, it's probably doing more damage to our children, then we realize.

In my opinion, we're laying the future fiber optic pathways with our children, to grow up being ignored. To grow up realizing that technology trumps them.

Chances are, if I continue on the same path that I'm on with all this stuff, I will be raising 3 sons to communicate with me the same way that I am communicating with others of today; by a gadget. If that's okay with you, you will be fine. I'm envious. But no offense, I'd rather have a hug versus a tweet from my grown adult children someday.

Plus, I will have to witness the damage I did to my children; I'll see my grandchildren being ignored by their parents.

Yikes! Not a very good feeling!

Of course as I said before, now that I'm a parent, I can't tell you how bad I feel for trying to interrupt my Mom's time. How jacked is it that I would get annoyed with my Mom for needing that escape. An escape that still had her limited and tied to one area, yet it was probably just what she needed to get through her day of 5 silly kids jumping off the bed.

She was limited.
We today, are not.

Ironically all this chatter about how we can just tune out our children because of technology, and how we're damaging our children, and yet, I'm doing it as I type. Ben is sitting next to me, watching TV while I blog away. The moment he interrupts me, I get annoyed.

OMG! I am such a hypocrite. Guilty as charged.

There's been shows based on technology abuse as of lately. Sitcoms that have similar story lines.

There's been articles about technology abuse and the affects it's having on our children's development and growth. Yet, here I am, clacking away on a laptop that I can carry anywhere around my house.


So how do we turn down the volume of technology abuse? How do we balance? How do we slow down? Some of us could quit cold turkey, and find how much of a relief it is, some of us need to be shown or told how to reduce our time, some just prefer to remain as they are. But if you were to discover perhaps that you are suffering from an abusive relationship with your technology toys, how would you go about changing it?

Here are some ways I've tried to curb it: I don't text when I'm driving. I don't text when I'm at a stop light. It's very infrequent, compliments of my brother's car accident, that I talk on the cell phone when I'm driving. As of late, I refuse to talk on my cellphone even while waiting for the light to turn green. I've been turning my cellphone off at night, and I am trying to limit my online time.

Key word, trying.
"It's not easy!!"

My approach with this is in baby steps.

I owe it to the technology world for making me realize this. For making it happen.
Recently within a 2 day time span, my cellphone malfunctioned and I was left without. Having to wait over the weekend and one overnight for a replacement. At the same time, I got the blue screen of death on my laptop, which meant absolutely no online time, and not even any computer "my documents" time.

Then my cordless phone battery stopped taking a charge.
I was left to use my wall phone that is tucked somewhere in the kitchen, on the wall, strictly for a home decor accent piece. It is a working phone, and it's not yellow, it's red. But it has a cord and I can only walk 2 full steps before I'm pulled back to the reality that unless I want to replace drywall, I'd best stand still to talk.

It was because of all of the malfunctions of my "real world," that forced me to realize how relaxing it is to not have it around. I didn't have to get that guilty feeling if I didn't reply immediately to someone that sent me a text. Technology forced me out of her nest, and I had to learn quickly how to fly away from it. Thankfully technology had me in a tall tree, so I was able to have more time then usual to acclimate myself to the quick approaching soil down below.

Yet, even with the Mommy bird of Technology shoving me out of her nest, I still have a long way to go with this "on demand" addiction. A long way.

This recovery definitely takes time. There are definitely more then 12 steps in this program.
Going on a guesstimate, I would say there as many pages in your newest "real world" touch technology owners manual, as there are steps to recover from this particular type of addiction.

Side thought: "Do any of you actually read those manuals? Those crazy instructional booklets that arrive banded together with your newest "eye see you" pad or "robotic" touch phone?
Just curious."

Yes, technology can be a curse. Unless you're totally chill with not having a real relationship with your someday grown adult children. You are fully prepared to have a relationship based on the "you've got grown children communication mail" chime.

Because they will be so adjusted to what the "real world" of tomorrow will be like, compliments of what you've taught them, that your only communication with them will come from things requiring charges.

Yes, it's that damaging.
This is based strictly on current experience that the road my children are heading down, if I continue on the path that I'm on right now in the world of chirps, and tweets, they are destined to repay me in the same way.

A yellow phone cord to the wall did not damage my childhood. It actually helped me when I became a parent, because for once I got it. My Mom worked her tail off everyday, it was only fair she have stair time with that yellow cord.

Me on the other hand? As I said above, when I stop to think about how my actions with all this crap will have on my kids for tomorrow, it's not a pretty picture.

Communicating Under the Influence.
When it impairs your ability to function in any sort of task. Whether it may be driving, or even something as simple as taking your kids to the park. If it interferes with your abilities to parent properly, you will be under the influence of too much communication/connections.

MY OWN CREATIVE EXAMPLE (steal it, or borrow it, and you'll owe me royalty funds):

wife: "Honey, I got a CUI today at the park."
husband: "were you with the kids when this happened?"
wife: "yes, but I didn't get a childhood communication endangerment charge."
husband: "how'd you manage that?"
wife: "the cop recognized my face from his wife's facebook friend list, and cut me a break."

That's what happens when we have more then one "yellow phone cord" that we constantly have in use. When we huff and puff and blow our sons Lincoln logs down because, gasp, they needed to pull me away from my online social media connections, to come wipe their tushie after a visit on the toilet.

I can make blogging my "yellow cord." I'm even okay with saying goodbye to Facebook.
(When I arrive on that particular step of the this recovery program.)

Do I have to give up my cell phone, and the features that come with it? Absolutely not. But I can limit the time spent with it all. I can schedule my "find a pay phone time," or my "collect call time." Technology doesn't have to be constant, if I don't want it to. Granted there is this one "APP" that is very useful; "Hi, it's Pam, I'll be dropping off an egg or two for you later today, so unless you want more kids, avoid coitus." Beats having to answer this question from your kids; "Mom-E, why do you always draw hearts and stars on different days each month on your calendar?"

It's still okay to limit how much of it you use. It is okay for the technology within my world, to collect dust.

Just like those heavy ass encyclopedia volumes collected dust on my parents book shelves back when I was growing up. Sure they were used, and on occasion it wasn't always for good -looking up dirty words or pictures- but it can be limited, and not abused.

If you're willing to let your own brain rule how you run the "real world" of technology.

1 comment:

KathyA said...

Yes, I can remember those long distances charges very well and how expensive they were!

My mom called my dad during the day, and he would call us. He was an accountant.