“Let’s face it. From a Digital Native’s perspective, pulling the plug on a person’s screens is pretty much pulling the plug on life itself.” – Susan Maushart, The Winter of Our Disconnect
The final chapter of Maushart’s book is aptly titled “The Return or the Digital Native,” focusing on the family’s return to their beloved media. But I think I disagree with the quote I pulled out above—even Maushart admits to having unhealthy dependencies on technology, and I’d argue that many jobs and industries (as well as many adults in their personal lives) would also claim such life-threatening ramifications of unplugging.
However, I get her point—those born into and immersed in it have a more challenging time separating from it; likely because they’ve known (and therefore had no reason to desire) anything different. It seems, then, this tight grip some of us have on “the good old days” is the key force behind our discontent with the present state of (and exponentially changing) media landscape. I held tightly to this torch of discontent when I first ventured into the unknown depths of media ecology. In my Media and Culture course we learned of technology such as Google Glass, at which I balked. Other types of media were trash, and books should always prevail! And I meant real books; ad-filled and link-laden e-books or online reading would always pale in comparison! But as I’ve opened my mind (yes, I can occasionally be stubborn) and my brain, I’ve learned that *gasp* not all media are bad! And P.S., self—books are media, too.
Anyway. Overall, I like the idea behind this family’s great disconnect. Though I’m typically not one for dramatic alterations in behavior, I think in this instance it worked well. Completely unplugging from everything long-term is not very realistic in our world, but for a certain amount of time could serve to shine a spotlight on just how strong our dependencies are. The drama could be exactly what we need to truly see what we are doing. Especially since so much time online is non-purposeful, I think it is easier to blur our perception of our behavior.
But as Maushart points out, “Even Thoreau left the woods eventually.”
I think this circles all the way back to the name of this blog. The way we analyze media use shouldn’t be driven by a desire for the days of old, it should be driven by a desire to simply question our advancements with a skeptical lens and think about how we use them.