Is Technology to Blame for Emotional Barriers?
We have all been there. In a restaurant where people are texting instead of talking. They tweet and Facebook and seem to be lost in the digital world instead of participating in the real one. Many writers (and people) are skeptical of social media and technology. We’ve all been with that person who can’t stop chatting on the phone long enough to actually engage in the real-life conversation. Yet, is technology to blame for the emotional distance?
I never really knew my father, particularly in my early years. He left for work before I was even awake and frequently came home just in time for dinner. Then he would read for hours and say three words to us kids. We knew better than to interrupt him watching TV or reading his latest paperback. And my dad easily read three books a week. I think part of the reason I loved books as a child was I wanted some way to connect to my father.
My grandfather worked all the time. He was gone on the road most of the year. When he was home, he was immersed in a newspaper or any number of sports on the television. Baseball, basketball, football, fishing, golf all the time. Silence. No conversation. It might interrupt the crossword puzzle. My dad had tried to connect to his father for many years, but his father was too busy with his company. Probably why my father sought escape in fiction. His brother took refuge in sports and the youngest immersed himself in D&D and later video games.
When I did get to talk to my grandfather, I learned that his father was a minister and farmer. Too busy writing sermons, planting, caring for the community to really be engaged. Work was the only time there was a semblance of connection. Maybe this is why my grandfather looked to work for solace.
And the females of my family were equally distant. My grandmother was busy cooking, the other grandmother too busy cleaning. My mom and aunts would shuffle us outside as soon as the cartoons ended so they could clean, organize, wallpaper, sew or talk over coffee.
When I was in college, I finally gave up visiting a long-time friend. She would invite me over for a visit and then spend the entire time on the phone while I twiddled my thumbs and wondered why I was there.
Thus, I am no stranger to having to compete with “things” for attention. Whether it was work, chores, books, papers, sewing machines, games or television, barriers have always been a part of life. So have poor manners.
I don’t know. Maybe the problem is more prevalent these days. Maybe my family is the odd duck.
Part of why I work so hard at teaching WANA ways is that, if technology is going to be an integral part of our culture, then we have a choice HOW we use the tool. We can use it to unplug from the human experience and drift along on auto-pilot, or we can actively resist our nature and use the same tools to become more involved in others. We can use technology to connect, laugh, love and offer support.
What are your thoughts? Is technology the problem? Is it how we are handling the technology? What are your frustrations? Do you find technology has helped you be closer to others, or that it’s become a barrier? Are you like me and grew up competing with television, phones and sports?
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To prove it and show my love, for the month of March, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of March I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!