Book Review – Winter of Our Disconnect

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I can’t remember how I stumbled across the book, The Winter of Our Disconnect, but I’m so glad I did.

Susan Maushart writes about how she became concerned with the growing disconnect between herself and her three teenage children and their (hers included) growing reliance on the digital world. Her solution to the problem was to have a six month technology detox – pulling the plug on items many of us see as essential today. Television, computer/laptops, gaming consoles, smart phones were all disconnected and put away for the duration.

I find this step, especially as Susan is a single mother to three teenage children, incredibly brave considering we have only just come out of our own one month TV detox and I saw my own heavy reliance on the TV for the kids ‘down time’.

However, Susan and her family found over the six months not only could they live without being plugged in, but that they enjoyed many aspects of it and have come away with a new awareness that has and will continue to change their lives.

Sounds dramatic when I put it like that but small changes like spending more time with each other without distraction, focusing on work and school work, tapping into their creative consciousness and being present in the moment all left their mark.

I have re-read this book for each of the past three years and will continue to do so. It serves me with a reminder of how in a world of ever-changing, fast-paced technology there are a few aspects of my life I need to keep monitoring to make sure I don’t slip into bad ‘life’ habits.

For example:

Making arrangements, sticking to them and being on time.
How many times have you made arrangements with someone and then said, ‘I’ll text you before then anyway,’ or ‘I’ll text you when I’m leaving.’

Why not just do what we used to do?

Pick a date, pick a time and be there on time. If someone is running late, just wait. Forget the numerous updates of, ‘Are we still on for tomorrow?’ Or, ‘Sorry, just leaving now, be there in 15’. Then, ‘Stuck in traffic, 10 mins away.’ Then, ‘I’m here. Where are you?’

Being present
My mum was a great one for settling in for the night to have a really good natter with someone over the phone. The phone was not cordless and it was located in the office, no computer back then either so the most you had to do was doodle and listen. Now, I find I ‘save’ my phone calls for when I’m in the car or doing easy jobs around the house. I never seem to ring someone to sit and talk and concentrate on them and what they have to say.

Focus
I have always been a keen reader but these days I tend to have the TV on in the background or will stop mid-chapter just to check something on my phone. My brain never seems to totally relax and accept that I will spend the next certain amount of time ‘just’ reading and reading deeply. Plus, I will admit, some nights I can be watching TV, googling on my laptop and texting on my phone… all at the same time. I’m blushing as I write that but it’s the truth.

These are just a few of the points touched on in Winter of Our Disconnect and each time I read it I take away something new. For a humorous view on life disconnected I definitely recommend this book.

What about you? What social niceties (or personal niceties) have you lost through our increasing reliance on technology?

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