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Friday, January 11, 2013

Monopoly, technology and divorce?

Top Hat Anyone?

 So have you voted yet?  Maybe you haven’t heard.  Parker Brothers, makers of the game Monopoly are planning on changing out one of the tokens you move around the board….apparently for something more up to date (maybe a cell phone??).  Anyway, apparently they want our opinion.  I don’t know about you, but I always preferred the dog or the top hat….I mean, who wants to be a thimble?  Lots of folks I know have lots of memories associated with the board game Monopoly…..some of whom only remember a bunch of fights!  You gotta admit, foreclosing on your kid sister because they spent the night at your Boardwalk hotel doesn't go over really well when she’s only 8. 

But I remember lots of good times playing lots of games together as kids.  Inside we played Monopoly, Sorry, checkers, canasta and put together jigsaw puzzles, just to name a few.  Of course, we played with lots of other things, too….horses and soldiers and the like.  We had fun, fights, winners, losers and challenges for a rematch. 

Educator and Parenting specialist, Stephen Glenn, once pointed out some of the things that have shifted and been lost in our society by how we handle children these days.  He talked about the difference in organized sports for kids, where they are told by adults what all the rules are and how to play, and contrasted it to the days of backyard baseball or stickball where the kids have to negotiate out the rules amongst themselves.  His concern is that kids aren't learning the art of working out their own solutions through negotiation and compromise.  I remember doing that kind of thing.  In our “ball field,” the ditch was represented the first base foul line, the maple sapling out in the middle was second base, and we stepped off whatever we thought was fair for the pitcher’s mound.  Today, of course, everything is already laid out, creativity and compromise are not necessary.

So the other day, I was at a local restaurant that is a “wifi hotspot,” where I saw a college couple sitting close together, each with a small laptop or ipad, earplugs in their ears typing away.  I interrupted long enough to say to the young man, “Please tell me you aren't emailing each other.”  He laughed, put his earplugs back in and went back to whatever he was doing.  But it all has me wondering.  Are we becoming a society of people who have relationships with technology, and none with living people?  Or of relationships over the internet, but none that require personal and face to face involvement?  Have we become too used to the video games with their established rules, secret codes that can help you get around the rules, and interactions with either a machine or perhaps people we will never meet?  Even the social media is at a distance.  Have you ever noticed that a text or email without vocal intonations and facial expressions can lead to misinterpretations?  Or how the Facebook pages create and discard “friends” casually without any personal commitment or cost?

Why do I bother to bring this up?  Because I suspect one of these days somebody will do a doctoral dissertation, or get federal funding to research the ways our lack of personal interaction and negotiations as children has contributed to a rising divorce rate.  We are becoming skilled at all sorts of things, but not at the kind of daily human interaction that is necessary for a good marriage.  I think there was something of value in sitting with friends to decide whether or not your sister has to reroll the die that fell on the floor.  Or to have to work out together who actually stepped on home plate first and whether the player’s elbow should be called a foul in basketball or was purely accidental.  I like lots of things about the opportunities all the changes are creating, such as connecting across a greater geographic area so quickly.  But I also am saddened and concerned about some of the price we may be paying because of the relationship and life skills we are neglecting along the way.  Not saying what it is, but do believe it is worth thinking about.  Just my opinion.  Oh, and I think they should get rid of the race car….I never did very well when I had that piece anyway!

TL:DR  Technology has value but don't let it cause you to loose important human contact. 

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