Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Winter of Our Disconnect

I got the book "The Winter of Our Disconnect" by Susan Maushart for Christmas.

This account of Susan's family's self-imposed exile from the Information Age will leave you laughing with recognition.

The book also challenges the reader to take stock of their family connections. And to create an environment that encourages the whole family to thrive.

When Susan Maushart first decided to pull the plug on all electronic media at home, she realised her children would have sooner volunteered to go without food, water or hair products. At ages 14, 15 and 18, her daughters and son didn't use media, they inhabited it. Susan calls them "Digital Natives" as opposed to her being a "Digital Immigrant".

Susan's experiment with her family was a major success and she found that having to communicate in the "old fashioned way", her family is communicating more. Despite having so many ways to communicate now (i.e. computers, mobile etc) Susan observes that we are connected more shallowly, rather than the rich feeling of belonging brought by these traditional means of communication.

At face value, The Winter of Our Disconnect is a memoir about how one family survived six months of being "unplugged", and what the learned about how they inhabited media and how they inhabited their lives. However, their story is so much more than that, it speaks of how new media impacts people, families and society as a whole.

Susan supports what she calls ‘The Experiment’ with extensive research, which could have come across as being overly educational, the book is more of a witty conversation with a good friend.

The result of her family's ‘unplugging’ is fascinating. I found the book thoroughly engaging and I do hope more people take her lead or at least turn off their electronic media occasionally. This book is for everyone with an interest in media, family dynamics and social experiments.

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