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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

OMG, IMR!: The Winter of Our Disconnect by Susan Maushart

HT!
HIG?
YKW?
2moro = big day YDWTM.
Y?
TM, YGLT!




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Okay so if you could translate that intro above without consulting one of the many text/IM/SMS acronym sites on the web, you may need this book, or rather to try what it details for yourself, even more than you think. For those of us that needed a decoder for at least part of it (*raises hand*)...I shall translate.


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Hi there!

How's it going?
You know what?
Tomorrow is a big day you don't want to miss.
Why?
Trust me...you're gonna love this!
(Translation over...proceed as usual.)

The book featured today is an usual choice for me as it's part biography (not a big surprise) and part current events (that's the kicker right there), but once I read the title, I was hooked.  Ready to "read all about it"?  Here we go.  Today's book of choice is....

How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone) Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale
by
Susan Maushart

Long title, interesting story.  Within these pages we go to a place no one from our day and age seeks to tread.  A place devoid of all site and sound...well, at least all sites and sounds that come from the gadgets and gizmos we've acquired.  That's right.  No more iPods.  No more eBooks.  No more netbooks, laptops, desktops or iPads.  (*tap*tap* Are you still with me?  Do I need to get the smelling salts...or perhaps your PSP to jolt you  back to life?)  The goal?  To see how "the Experiment" (as it came to be known) would impact their over all quality of life.  Would they connect more with each other as opposed to Facebook to Facebook?  Would their daily fitness routines retire to the land of once upon a time without a soundtrack to put foot to pavement by?  Would sleep become a friend as opposed to a distant relation twice removed?  We're about to find out...one...two...three...UNPLUG!

So, the question at hand...did I enjoy this book.  If put simply, "yes" but it sounds so trivial for this particular work that I (as usual) feel the need to further explain.  It was like seeing that proverbial "man in the mirror"...or in this case, "girl in the PC screen".  I admit it.  I am a habitual multi-tasker and anyone who knows me will confirm that fact without a doubt.  It's the way of the world, or at the very least my world.  In order to get everything done that needs doing AND enjoy oneself along the way, it's almost necessary to combine tasks to make things more efficient.  For example, more often than not while typing up a blog post, I'll also me listening to music, or have the TV on in the background.  When working through a report that requires absolute focus, out come the ear buds and up goes the self-imposed digital bubble. 

According to my calculations and the information in the text, I fall somewhere generation wise between the Digital Immigrants and the Digital Natives...that is to say a combination of someone who was "brought to" the world of connectivity and all its glory as well as "brought up" on it.  I remember back in the day (okay...that makes me sound oh-so-old but you may know what I mean -- or even identify with it -- in a second here)...computers were not in the classroom, especially if you went to private school.  In fact, the first year I encountered them in school would have been third grade.  Yep...nowadays kids practically leave the birth canal with a netbook in one hand and a cell phone in the other.  Speaking of cell phones...their appearance in (my) life...even later.

My family's first experience with the mobile wonders was the purchase of the good old (and still around, but more advanced) TracFone.  Their only function was that of a phone.  Really!  No texting, no pictures, no music....just a phone.  Ours was purchased for emergency use only (as in actual emergency...not I left my sweater or what's for dinner...more the I need a ride or I've lost a limb type...), when I was in sixth or seventh grade.  Owned my first cell phone when I entered the work force several odd years later....and I've never looked back.  It's hard to imagine not having it with me on any given day, just for the sheer convenience if not anything else....but there have been days when I've forgotten it at home and did just fine without it.  Surprise, surprise.

Does that mean I don't like technology?  Well, no (duh)...this is a blog for Pete's sake (who IS Pete anyway?) and the reviews don't get here by osmosis.  ^_^  In fact, I love it to a degree (and not in any creepy sense of the phrase either)...and I think a number of the degrees to which my love of it extends were discovered by this family through their self-imposed experiment too.  The enjoyment found in sitting down to a family dinner sans distractions and "you've got mail" calls.  The relaxation that comes from discovering the beauty in nature as you enjoy a cool night sitting out under the stars.  The unconditional love felt from a simple nudge or "kisses" from the family pet.  The joy of reading (okay, so most of us know this joy intimately) typed words on a page versus a screen.  The fulfillment and pride in seeing our words transcribed by our own hands...in ink....from a pen.  Grant it, there is no delete button and the ideas may not flow as freely at first, but once the electrical stopper is removed, your thoughts will spring from your mind to the pages with new life.  (Believe it or not, I actually wrote this review completely by hand first...a mini-technology cleansing activity in honor of the experiment...)

In the end, the family learned to find enjoyment in other areas of life previously written off to their respective graveyards.  Does it mean they aren't using technology to this day?  Heck no!  In fact, they were thrilled when the "ordeal" was over and celebrated with a day of pure indulgence in all they had missed....BUT....the break they took gave them a new perspective and so the reintroduction of the electronic brouhaha did not take as strong a hold of them as before.  It was nice to be able to use things when needed or desired, but it was no longer a requirement.  They had discovered life may move at the speed of light...but taking the slower route doesn't mean you won't reach the same destination; it may make all the difference though in whether or not you truly enjoy the journey.

A dash of humor, a twist of digital decay, and the right amount of reflection (and self-realization) to spice things up, this is one read for both those self proclaimed connection junkies as well as those that wouldn't know a "LOL" from a "ROTFL".  With many options to research the statistic and data strewn throughout the pages, further reading is merely a look in the "notes" section away (special thanks to the author for the copious references).  Long story short (and to keep my hand from cramping because this is probably the longest passage I've hand written in quite some time)...if you ever doubted, wondered, or even speculated the effects of the digital world on our lives, this ones for you.

ARC for review received via galley drawing from Tarcher a division of Penguin Books through the Shelf Awareness newsletter.  (THANKS!)  For more information on either the publisher or the relay-er of all things bookish news, click through the links provided and feel free to explore their sites.  In fact, the publisher has a great little Q&A with the author on their site that gives you a little more insight into just what they were thinking and what they were trying to accomplish.  Do you tweet?  Well so do they!  Check them out on Twitter to catch the latest of the late updates (publisher or bookish news or author).  This book is scheduled for release tomorrow, so keep an eye on the bookstore shelf nearest you.


COMMENT CREATOR
Haven't done one of these for a while, but I simply couldn't resist.  Riddle me this...if YOU were to "pull the plug" as in no PC, no smart phones, no iPods.... (are you still breathing?)  What would you miss the most?  What outlet would you seek for entertainment?  What skill would you cultivate and grow?  The comments are open....do tell!


Until next time...happy (unplugged) reading!








10 comments:

Kris said...

Well let me say first that this actually sounds like an interesting biography. I would miss the computer the most...no blogging AHHHH!

GMR said...

Kris: Yes, it definitely was....and oh yeah, no blogging would be a sad day indeed. -tear-

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I love unplugging. What would I miss the most? You gals on my Google Reader :) I LOVE seeing what you gals are reading and up to.

The1stdaughter said...

First off, LOVE the picture of the girl hugging her computer. Sad to say I'm pretty sure I've done that at some point, most like joking around, but still. Pretty funny.

As for what I'd miss most? Definitely my friends online. Much like Juju, it's the connection with people I've known in real life and others I've only "met" online that I value most about the connectivity. I've talked to and gotten to know so many good friends thanks to being "connected". I would definitely miss them!

Love this review! I'd definitely be interested in reading it just to see the experience overall, it sounds so interesting. Fantastic job!

PS...I have zero idea who Pete is. If you find out, I'd love to know. lol ;o)

NotNessie @ Today's Adventure said...

OK, confession time. I DON'T OWN A CELLPHONE!! I had one for a while, but people kept calling me for silly reasons at inconvenient times. I know I'll need one when my kids are older, but right now I enjoy the freedom. I love technology, but I also love ditching technology once in a while. Sounds like an interesting book... thanks for the review!

PS I would go through total Facebook withdrawl.

PPS. I'm pretty sure "Pete" is a reference to St. Peter.

Teresa said...

I've got this one in my TBR pile.

The longest I have ever been able to disconnect was a weekend, and that was before I started blogging. I'm thinking that it might be a little more difficult to do these days, although I am working on limiting the time I spend on the computer.

April said...

I am such a tech junkie, it's rather pathetic! I carry my phone around with me at all times and if I don't have it, I am (serious) panicked. My newest is an Android, so I can get internet, read, music and all that good stuff, so it is a bit like a lifeline. In rare occasions, I do use it to talk on, lol. I could do without t.v., but my phone and computer (an now Nook) would make me openly weep.

GMR said...

Juju: Aww....we'd miss you too Juju...and all the great reading suggestions. ^_^

The1stdaughter: Egad! What is the meaning of leaving me a comment this long? *glares* (Just kidding! LOL.) ^_^ Understand on the PC hug...we all do that from time to time. Totally agree with the connection bit, especially with friends made across the miles. Thank you for the kind words on the review! It really was an interesting read. I think NotNessie might know about "Pete". ^_^

NotNessie: No cell phone? O_O *jaw drops* Understand your reasons though....that's why I guard my number like the combination to Fort Knox. It's more there for ME to make calls than to receive. As for the Facebook withdrawl....~whispers~ I've never used that site...shhh! Glad you enjoyed the review...thanks for stopping by!

Teresa: Coolness. Can't wait to hear what you think about it. I usually disconnect on the weekends myself....well, for the most part anyway. Can't say I'm not on there at all...hehe.....

April: Oh no...I think you have the dreaded "Androidia ferveria". LOL. Technology is great, it's just controlling it versus it controlling us that's hard. Best of luck! ^_^

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

Wow! This is fascinating! I don't know if I could do it O_O My Blackberry is my loverrr -- I have constant convos going on. I'd be lost!

GMR said...

Casey: Yeah...it definitely took courage (LOL). ^_^

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