the winter of our disconnect: chapter 2

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“The stillness was good–now that I’d experienced perhaps twenty minutes of it–but it was also, frankly, just a tiny bit spooky.” – Susan Maushart, The Winter of Our Disconnect

In this chapter, Maushart discusses the harsh realities of being without modern technological conveniences. Battling her teens disbelief, Maushart made the choice to disconnect largely for her children: “I wanted my kids to experience this… to enlarge themselves. To discover themselves. To become human beings more fully alive, in the Waldenesque words of Saint Irenaeus.” The current generation of children are the first to grow up truly surround by the buzz and glow of technology. Though TVs and radios have been around awhile, home computers and cell phones (especially for children’s use) weren’t popularized until the mid-nineties. Even these technological advancements were confined; internet use was restricted to a hardline connection and mobile phones allowed us to talk more conveniently, but that was about it. Total connectivity at all times was not an option, but it is now. Kids today don’t know anything else; most of them can’t comprehend true silence because they’ve never heard it.

Maushart references the book Born Digital, which uses the term “Digital Native” to describe “the first generation born and raised completely wired” (I don’t know about you, but this phrase stirs illusions of some disturbing science fiction thriller in my mind). This generation is “no more frightened by new media than they are by a new pair of running shoes. They just jump right in and start sprinting.” But they’ve known nothing else, so why would they act any differently? Why would they question a world without technology when they have only been swaddled in its comforting embrace?

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