A Canadian family that went a year with no technology made after 1986 ended its year-long low-tech journey. Could you have survived such a gadget ban?
Think back to how high-tech your life was in 1986.
I was a sophomore in high school. I did have a cell phone, but it was a giant, bulky “bag phone” that required a car cigarette lighter to plug into. By 1986’s standards, it was enough to earn a bit of envy from a handful of my classmates; by today’s standards, it would certainly draw sneers and giggles.
There were no smartphones. There were video games, but games produced with blocky graphics: think Atari 2600 or original Nintendo.
There was television in 1986, of course, and it was even in color. We even had cable, albeit with a fraction of today’s channel choices. But high-definition TV? Oh, that was a long way off. Music was played off of cassette tapes. Videos were viewed from videotapes. (You haven’t forgotten VHS, have you?)
A personal assistant in 1986 meant that you had hired a real person that you had to call on the telephone. There was no Siri.
And checking a map meant pulling out an atlas.
The McMillians packed up all of their technology — the stuff the rest of us have taken for granted for years — and decided to live the “old-fashioned way,” and yes, it’s frightening that 1986 is already considered “old-fashioned.”
But in this article from Yahoo! Tech, one quote from the family jumps out at me: the father, talking about the return to 2014 technology, said this:
“I’ll just miss relaxing in the family room while the kids play and there’s no distractions and I’m not obviously caught up in my phone.”
Why does relaxing have to be something he’ll miss again? Why does he have to be “caught up” in a smartphone?
If spending twelve months getting back to some sort of anti-tech basics isn’t enough to teach the family how not to be so dependent on technology to the point that they aren’t capable of spending quality time with each other, I’m not sure what would be.
People have faced this challenge for years, and some have actually managed to set a dedicated time per week (or per day, perhaps) where they just power down from the screens.
Families who can’t even have a meal together without everyone at the table tapping keys on their smartphones are doing it wrong in a big way.
Sure, more and more people are on social media and are relying on technology for the interaction that used to be face to face, person to person. But that doesn’t mean we have to spend every waking moment in that kind of electronic frenzy.
Common sense should tell us that we are the ones who decide whether we’ll be a slave to technology.
I didn’t even need a year away from it to figure that much out.