There are so many reasons why I still gather a group of friends around a table and play games. It’s a way to socialize in a way some people have forgotten. Interacting in collective story telling fosters my relationships with so many of my friends that other activities miss.
I feel that everyone in their lifetime has some sort of mystical revelation that happens to them. Either it be the moment you realize that your parents were right, or you reach that crossroad in life and finally understand what Robert Frosts “A Road not Taken” was all about.
Mine came sitting on what we call in my home small couch. I was blasting through some nameless social media site on my handheld computer which can also double as a mobile telecommunication device when a cartoon link came up. Having a broad sense of humor, I can never resist a good cartoon. This satirical single framed piece of imagery pictured a family of four. It was the typical million-dollar family with a mom and a dad with two kids, a boy and a girl sitting around the living room with smiles of synergy that radiated on the mini viewing screen. The whole scene in the frame was beginning to play out like an old Family Circus Cartoon created by Bil Keane. The youngest boy, looking close to the preteen age sat on the large family sized couch holding a computer gaming controller and looking intensely at the unseen television. Next to him was the mother, like any average mother could be reading off some computer tablet, eyes fixed on the screen while her presumable teenage daughter curled up beside her was typing feverishly into her mobile telecommunication device. The father, like some sort of late 1950’s portrait was sitting in the comfy chair staring blankly at the scene around him. The thought bubble from the father reading something like “It’s this nice that we can spend some family time together”. I quickly slammed on the brakes to my social media juggernaut and put the mobile device down to survey the environment around me. “Great Scott!” my living room looked like the cartoon. My life had become a cartoon, and presently not a very funny one.
Now if you think this is going to be about one father’s crusade to bring his family together and save them from the evil clutches of the ruthless internet of destruction you are wrong. The internet wasn’t evil, though some of you, having being lured by its majestic Sirens call over and over again might disagree. The problem lies in each of us that has allowed the internet, social media and all sort of electronic gadgets rule over us. We have become slaves to our electronics and mobile devices. The only thing missing is Big Brother watching over us which is another topic for debate will shall leave for another time.
The easy answer to the problem is just put the devices down. Are you kidding me? Might as well take away my morning coffee at the same time because if I cannot check to see if I got a response to my 140-character post I just sent 2 minutes ago, someone will surely perish in a fit of unparalleled rage. Now you’ll have to excuse me and wait a second so I can take a selfie of that. I don’t feel my satirical outburst are that far from the truth when we really take a look around us. These roses smell nasty.
How can you prove this inconceivable claim that our fundamental way of life changed, and how we interact with our friends and family has made us slaves to an insufficient piece of equipment we keep in our pocket? If you think this is rather preposterous, I suggest a trip to a place known in myth as a haven for mobile computing devices. You will journey past the 42 rows of houses and through the village square to locate this temple of discovery. There you might find a free-standing structure with a green hue that serves cups of rejuvenating liquid to keep you awake while you stream millions of data packets on their holy free Wi-Fi. Seriously, take a trip to your local exclusive coffee shop and count how many people have their little devices out and at the ready. While you are there you might want to take a picture of that glorious cup of goodness and use the free Wi-Fi to send it to all your friends and show them how awesome a time you are having sitting alone with your mobile computer. You can make yourself believe you are not really alone because you are instantly connected electronically to everyone you know and millions of people you don’t know. It is truly incredible how it feels to be surrounded virtually by so many humans and never really engage with them one on one.
It wasn’t too long ago that checking your mail meant having to physically go outside and check in a metal or wooden box. Oh, but there was catch to that. You could only do it once a day and never on a weekend. We lived in barbaric times back then. The horror of not being able to check for a response to your lovely letter about your recent trip to the store written to that lovely mother in law for more than 10 minutes must have been outlandish.
This is not going to be an intervention where I suggest you give you mobile device to a friend and check yourself into your nearest addiction center. This is more of a group of stories of how to reconnect to friends and more importantly your family on a personal level. You will still be able to keep your electronics and mobile devices at the ready but perhaps learn that putting them down or shutting them off is OK and will bring some amazing results.
Now before you continue I’m going to recommend that you put that device of distraction away in another room with a timer and relax for 30 minutes and read or better yet, take your phone and call a bunch of friends over to gather around a table. Baby steps, right?