Tag Archives: Relationship

Unplugging Because. . .

Technology, like sex, has a love/scare relationship with most Americans.

Until relatively recently, sex has been something that you just did not speak about in anything remotely resembling polite company. Not only did Lucy and Ricky sleep in separate beds with a nightstand between them, but most of George Carlin’s seven words you can’t say on television have to do with sex.

The flip side to that, however, is that while sex might not have been a public subject, it was the thing most on the minds of American men and women. Porn thrived, especially with the arrival of the internet and the ability of people to buy it anonymously. You couldn’t talk about it, but it was used to sell everything from cars and toothpaste to fridges and massagers.*

Things haven’t changed all that much, but it has become a bit less of a taboo in public discussion. Or at least, my wife, known to one and all as She Who Must Be Talking About Sex, and her friends seem to have no trouble talking about this kind of thing anywhere and everywhere.

I’m thinking technology is beginning to occupy a similar place in the American psyche. Not so much its existence, but, rather its use.What's the point of things like the National Day of Unplugging? Are we that scared of what the internet, in particular, and technology, in general, can offer to us?

More and more people are joining movements like the National Day of Unplugging, which was held early last month. The point of it was to abjure technology from sundown March 7 to sundown March 8. Ironically, folks who participated took photos of themselves and posted them on the National Day of Unplugging website to talk about “I unplug to. . . ”

I’m assuming ironic-deafness is a prerequisite to becoming a Luddite.

This whole thing reminds me of people who used to say, “I never watch television, except maybe a few hours of Masterpiece Theater on PBS.” Mostly folks said that to make it look like they were too smart, too sophisticated to debase their minds with the common drivel the rest of us enjoyed.

I suspect these folks are probably the same ones who won’t use an e-reader because they only read “real” books.

So, really, what’s the point? It’s not like any of these people are going to unplug for the rest of their lives. It seems to me that the whole point of this unplugging is to plug back in and then broadcast to one and all how virtuous you were because you put down your smartphone for a while.

It might have something to do with the fact that people don’t trust themselves very much. They use programs that block the internet or blank their web browsers so they won’t fool around when they should be working. They keep checking their messages and e-mail during meals with other people.

Even if you have always-on connection, that doesn’t mean you have to use it, yeah?

Mostly, I think the attraction of these sorts of things lies in the fact that, for most people, the idea of change is scary. And technology is all about change, about doing things differently, more efficiently, on a wider scale than before, seeing new things in your lives that had always been there, but were never noticed.

Dudes and dudettes get caught up in the world and begin racing toward the future with eyes open, but stop every once in a while, stumble, and realize just how much change we’ve been through and still face.

The strong smile, assess and continue. The weak unplug.

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Nope, No Fool, He

Hey, dude!s. Barry here with another exciting adventure from the land of parenting a tween-age boy. Fear them, dudes. Fear them.

After dinner the other night, I realized that while my mind is that of a young dude, my body most certainly is not. My youngest son and I sat down at the dinner table to have an after-dinner-pre-before-bed snack. Well, he calls it a snack. I call it a second dinner. The sad thing is, when I look at it, my waist size increased by two inches. He doesn’t put on an ounce of fat. Youth.

Anyhow, here was our conversation.

Son: Dad, I want you to know i am in a relationship.

Me: With who?

Son: Well, she’s a little older than I am.

Me: Do I know her?

Son: Maybe. . .

Quickly, so as not to appear like a total doofus, I started going through the names of some of the girls going to his school. I know most of the parents, so I was doing all right with matching them together. But I wasn’t having much luck picturing my son getting a crush on any of them. And, if he did, I had a feeling I was going to be having some appallingly awkward conversations with a father sooner rather than later.

Me: Ok, who?

Son: She’s pretty well known… and liked.

Me: Oh! Does she have another boyfriend?

Son: I’m not sure. But it doesn’t matter since we got engaged today!

Me, in a high, squeaky voice: Really?

Now about then I was getting more than a little nervous, since I am far, far too young to be a granddad.

Son: Yep.

Me: Well, who is the lucky lady?

Son: Guess. She’s famous.

Me: TV? Movies?

By then I was feeling a bit easier. I had a feeling this was going to be a lot less traumatic — for me — than I had been worrying about. I thought, when did he go to the Hunger Games set? They filmed it here last year.

Me: Who?

Son, with a sly smile: Meghan Fox.

Me, with more relief in my voice than I wanted: Oh. Good choice. You have my permission to marry her. But, I have one question: does she know you’re only 13?

Son: Nope, but she will soon.

All of which goes to show you, kids don’t even pause at considering the impossible. They don’t know enough to know what they want to do can’t be done. I wouldn’t be surprised if that kind of attitude carries him far one day. I just have to hope it’s a bit less far than the bushes outside Meghan Fox’s condo some night.

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Can You Hear Me?

Seriously, dudes. Just shut the mouths for a second. Stop talking and listen.

I know, I know. I understand the irony. Here I am, talking every day and never shutting up and I’m telling you dudes and dudettes to knock off the noise. I get it. Still, I think it’s pretty good advice.

See, I was reading an article on LinkedIn the other day. It was about a dudette who contracted laryngitis. She couldn’t talk at all. And this was a dudette who was never not talking.

In the article, she talked about how not being able to talk, once she got over the frustration, really enabled her to actually listen to the people with whom she worked. It was an (you should pardon the second sensory analogy dragged in here) eye-opening experience.

She found that, once she began to really listen, she began to make better decisions because she actually understood what people were telling her. The time spent listening to other people was useful, instead of a pause for you to breathe and to marshall your next seven points to talk over the other person.

It got me to thinking.

It seems like that, as parents, we do a lot of talking. I’m saying a lot of talking and mostly to our sons and daughters. There are all sorts of good reasons for that. Mostly because as young dudes and dudettes, they don’t have enough experience to say anything that will contribute in a good way to a serious discussion. Then, when they become teenagers, they’re just so obnoxious, no one wants to listen to them on general principles.


We need to close out yappers some time. Take the opportunity to really listen to what your son or daughter is telling you. Listen to her vocal mood. Is there something in the way he’s talking that says, “Good” wasn’t anything like that?

Listen to them talk and try to remember their friends’ names and relationships. This lets you be able to act specific questions about the correct kids. It lets them know we’re taking their lives seriously. Even if we’re not. Learn to echo back what they’re saying so they know you’re actually listening to them and paying attention.

Do what you tell them to do: Look at their face when you’re listening or talking, be seen to pay attention. Be courteous and wait your turn to talk. The important thing is that by listening to our little dudes and dudettes, we’re showing them the correct way to behave with other people. We’re modeling the behavior we want to see. Or, rather, to hear.

That’s all for me for today. I’m going to shut up now.

See? I’m doing it. I’m not talking. At all. Right after this.

Told you I–


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