I don’t really want to write this, but…we love TV in this house. It’s unrefined and unsophisticated to admit TV love, and I feel the immediate need to talk about NPR and fine wines to counter it. It’s true though. During the coldest months of winter in our northern Indian town, Husband and I used to love to snuggle up and watch reruns of ‘24‘ on our laptop. And then it was ‘Prison Break,’ and then ‘Alcatraz.’ (Wait, I’m starting to see a pattern here).
Anyway, I will never, ever watch ‘Honey Boo Boo‘ on TLC. That much I can promise you. But I will watch ‘Hoarders‘ when I need a little boost to keep getting rid of stuff, and ‘Biggest Loser‘ when I want to feel both good about myself and inspired. I will not watch a single, solitary wedding show, but I’ll watch ‘Everybody Loves Raymond‘ on TV Land and be thankful for my sweet mother-in-law.
And it’s not just Husband and I who love our shows. The kids love ‘Tom and Jerry,’ ‘Phineas and Ferb,’ and ‘Fish Hooks.’ In fact, their favorite thing about international flights is the back-to-back-to-back episodes of ‘Fish Hooks‘–well, that and the fact that they get to drink actual, real Coke. Now, because I care what you think, I’m quickly adding that our TV stays off during the day (except for the once-in-awhile early morning cartoon). My kids do math and chores and stuff. We listen to classical music and take nature walks. They don’t drink Coke and sit in front of the boob tube all day.
But they wish they could.
And there’s the rub. We have to fight against our natures to have productive days around here. And it’s not just the TV that beckons. It’s the computer, and the kids’ wretched little DS’s, too. (We recently sold our Wii. Enough was enough). And while it might be easier to simply get rid of every device that threatens to make us stupid and unmotivated, I think the more noble battle is the one for balance, whatever that means. We want to master and use technology, but not let it master and use us.
This is not an easy thing to do, but I think it’s the right thing.
I’m reading a book on philosophies of education, and in it the question of technology is treated thoughtfully. We cannot escape our current screen-oriented world unless we move to the bush. We may be Luddites but we’ll be a dying breed. Still, I agree with David Hicks, author of Norms & Nobility when he warns, “Our fascination with technical means, by the very nature of things, subverts the supreme task of education–the cultivation of the human spirit: to teach the young what is good, to serve it above itself, to reproduce it, and to recognize that in knowledge lies this responsibility.”
Call me crazy, but I don’t think my TV helps me with “the supreme task of education.” And, really, neither does the computer, its endless storehouse of “facts” notwithstanding. So my questions is, How can I use technology in my life and in the lives of our kids to further our goals, both educational and spiritual, without letting it control and dictate our lives? I might wish for the days of hand-written letters and movie rentals at the local store, but those days are all but gone. And I won’t get them back.
I don’t have the answer. I know a lot of families who have decided that they won’t have a TV, they’ll use one home computer–maybe–and that texting is silly. But I know many more who have a TV in every bedroom, a computer in most, and have little blingy holsters for their communication gadgets.
Where do we fit in? I don’t know. Somewhere in the difficult middle, maybe.
All I really know is, right now it’s time I got off the computer.