The Winter of Our Disconnect
How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone)Pulled the Plug on Their
By Susan Maushart
(Tarcher, Paperback, 9781585428557, 288pp.)
Publication Date: January 20, 2011
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.
The wise and hilarious story of a family who discovered that having fewer tools to communicate with led them to actually communicate more.
When Susan Maushart first announced her intention to pull the plug on her family's entire armory of electronic weaponry for six months-from the itsy-bitsiest iPod Shuffle to her son's seriously souped-up gaming PC-her three kids didn't blink an eye. Says Maushart: "Looking back, I can understand why. They didn't hear me."
For any parent who's ever IM-ed their child to the dinner table, this account of one family's self-imposed exile from the Information Age will leave you LOLing with recognition. But it will also make you think.
The Winter of Our Disconnect challenges readers to examine the toll that technology is taking on their own family connections, and to create a media ecology that instead encourages kids-and parents-to thrive. Indeed, as a self-confessed single mom who "slept with her iPhone," Maushart knew her family's exile from Cyburbia wasn't going to be any easier for her than for her three teenagers, ages fourteen, fifteen, and eighteen. Yet they all soon discovered that the rewards of becoming "unplugged" were more rich and varied than any cyber reality could ever be.
Susan Maushart is a columnist for Weekend Australian Magazine and is heard regularly on ABC Radio as host of the acclaimed online series "Multiple Choice." Maushart has a PhD in Media Ecology from New York University and her book The Mask of Motherhood was hailed by the London Times as "a feminist classic." She lives in Australia but will be returning to live in the Long Island, New York, area this winter.
"Weekend Australian Magazine columnist Maushart (What Women Want Now, 2007, etc.) examines what happened when she and her three teenaged children went on a six-month hiatus from the digital world.The author includes a telling story about two little girls trapped in a storm drain. The first thing they did? "They updated their Facebook status, of course." Maushart worried that she and her children were becoming trapped within the digital world, estranged from the real world and from each other. She had grown skeptical of the claim that the new media was somehow improving their lives. And so began "The Winter of Our Disconnect," six months without computers (laptop and otherwise), iPods, iPhones, texting, video games, Facebook, e-mail or TV-a "screen-free adventure." Though she and her children were initially excited about the adventure, resentment and resistance soon followed. Maushart hated having to write her newspaper column by hand; Sussy, the youngest, lamented that "I can't go for walks 'cause I don't have my iPod." Over time, however, their self-imposed digital detox changed them for the better; boredom led to discovery of each other and of the world around them. The family room was no longer a series of separate docking stations, but a place where the family actually gathered. Family meals, and conversation, replaced hurried bites between digital fixes. Bill, freed from endless entrapment in video games, resurrected his love for music and excelled on the saxophone. Sussy discovered sleep, freed from the "need" to update her status at four in the morning. Rather than multitask, and aimlessly Google from one bit of information to the next, the kids read. They had discovered, as Maushart writes, "a renewed sense of agency." The author narrates her story in a breezy, irreverent style, but beneath the humor is much wisdom about what our wired world does for us and to us. No Luddite diatribe, but an insightful tale of the digital dilemmas familiar to many families." -Kirkus Reviews [Starred review]