When I used to hear my mom or dad say that I was grounded from the phone, or no tv for a week, it meant that I was in trouble and that was my punishment. If you notice, I only mentioned two things: Phone and tv. That’s because it was about the only high tech stuff that we had when I grew up. I know you’ve heard all of this before from us “older’ (and I use that term loosely) folks, especially if you were born in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Even I find it hard to believe that there were no cell phones, no cable tv, no computers or internet, and one of my favorite ways to listen to music (besides the radio), was playing those seven or twelve inch round, usually black, vinyl objects called records. (What’s an mp3? It sounds like an algebra problem).

Toys Off

One woman, Susan Maushart, did something that might seem like cruel and unusual punishment by today’s standards. She called it “The Experiment”. For six months, Susan took away her teenagers toys, which included cell phones, internet, computers, video games, tvs, and Ipods. (you know, all the “fun” stuff). She even stopped carrying her phone into the bathroom. What actually happened was the family began to adopt a simpler lifestyle, and for the most part, even enjoyed the lack of the high tech “toys”.

To start “The Experiment”, she actually turned off the electricity for a few weeks: really living the old fashioned way, complete with no electric lights, refrigerator or hot showers. I have to admit, I think that was a little too extreme. (I might have to move some steaks in the cooler, so I can fit my beer in there.)

What she actually found was her one daughter’s grades improved. Her son was hooked on video games and addicted to tv. She said "He swapped Grand Theft Auto for the Charlie Parker songbook." This made him serious about playing sax that when “The Experiment” was over, he sold his game console and is now continuing to study music in college.

The whole family ended up doing and enjoying things, like reading books, listening to music together, lazy Sundays and more. What you might call small pleasures. Susan Maushart even wrote a book about “The Experiment”, called "The Winter of Our Disconnect".

This may require a little imagination, and maybe some research: Do you think that maybe we should all try to do this for a day or two per month, to get reacquainted with something a little bit simpler than the way life is today? You might need to do a Google search before you turn off your computer.

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