The Digital Life of an Ordinary American Family

(Above photo:

The three of us are all sitting at our computers doing various tasks. My husband is loading pix from his iPhone to the Dropbox file onto his computer. (I do not know how to do this.) My daughter has spent the past several hours browsing the net for flight schedules, hotel locations and costs for a possible family trip to the Southwest. I just sat down to begin my Slice for today (late again).

We do not, however, consider ourselves technological addicts. My husband is on a computer all day at his job, so he is not particularly eager to spend more time on one when he gets home. My daughter usually hangs out on Facebook at night for an hour or so. I do most of my computer tasks during the day at various times, but sometimes I’ll waste an hour at night bait clicking before I head for the bedroom. (I know this is not considered a healthy thing to do.)

Yet here we are…all clicking away, before and after dinner. It is, however is unusual for all three of us to be online at the same time. We do spend a good amount of time together in the evenings and on weekends, so I would not say we are not emotionally detached due to overusage of technology. Instead, I would say that we use the digital world to further or support, or even complement our interests. I, clearly, use it regularly to write my weekly Slices, and daily during the March Challenge. Only recently did I join Facebook. After the first month or two of chronically checking to see what was happening on Facebook, I realized it wasn’t all that interesting so my visits have seriously diminished. I do get email from friends who, like myself, find emails less time consuming than phone conversations so we will often make plans or share info through emails.

My daughter uses her Mac to write a newsletter related to her job. She, too, is on the computer most of every day at work, but unlike me, she has a life on Facebook. Many of her friends love her Facebook Page (now called Timeline?) because she posts such interesting and quirky things, usually having to do with nature. She has eclectic interests and a great sense of humor so her Facebook page is a fun place to visit. My husband does not have a Facebook presence but he is a whiz at doing research on the computer and is knowledgeable about many computer programs and how to navigate them. He also now takes care of many tasks such as banking and paying bills online and he is good at it.

I’m not even going to mention my son and his relationship to the digital world. He is not a computer geek, but his occupation/passion is film so he spends a good part of his day online for work-related tasks (like digital editing), communicating with colleagues, and staying in touch with friends. When he is actually working he is a DIT on a film set; this means he has responsibility for “quality control, troubleshooting, on-set color correction, and managing the workflow of a production.” In short, he is responsible for the digital quality of everything that is being filmed. This is a huge responsibility and I understand very little about the nature of it.

We are just an ordinary family that has slowly but surely made the shift to participating in the digital world for a portion of each day, if not the whole work day. I am beginning to realize just how much time this takes, and why I perhaps feel pressured to get more ordinary things done such as: making the bed, going grocery shopping, cleaning the house and so on. Although, since retired, I have more free time than ever, somehow I still end up feeling like there’s never enough time in a day. The weeks fly by.

Does any of this sound familiar?

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barbara suter

I'm a retired teacher who enjoys writing and sharing in this; unique blogging community.

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