By Doug Routt
At our summer cabin on a lake in northern Minnesota, breakfast was always a good time. Some of the family would come in groggy and sleepy, moan and groan a little, but after coffee or orange juice the crowd would always lighten up and a lively conversation would ensue.
We would plan the day and figure out what chores needed to be accomplished. Consult the almanac to determine the best time to fish. Plan our activities with respect to the weather and interact like a family
The breakfast table today is a far cry from those of yesteryear. With the advent of wi-fi and social media things have changed dramatically.
My daughter will enter with her iPhone clutched firmly in hand, her head down, and begin scrolling through Facebook. She will chortle at a few things and inevitably laugh and hold her phone to one of the other family members around her as she shows them someone’s latest post.
My son is deeply enrapt in his morning tablet newspaper and he will mumble at a few things and then decide to share with everyone an article that he finds interesting. This necessitates him reading the entire article while virtually nobody pays any attention.
My granddaughter arrives and doesn’t even bother to join us at the table – she just curls up on the couch with her head buried in her phone and starts texting or Twittering or Snapchatting or whatever the kids do today.
My wife of many years joins us and starts on game one of today’s 746 solitaire games, or maybe she will go back to work on yesterday’s jigsaw puzzle.
My daughter-in-law spends the least time on her device, as she rapidly gets into her Sudoku game or the one where you find the hidden words in the many-lettered square.
Alas, I must confess that I, too, am afflicted by electronics as I check email, which never has anything important, and read the early bird brief on all the various happenings throughout the globe.
Unfortunately, every family member is too preoccupied with his or her own little world to interact like we did before the internet.
I would gladly turn off the router or modem or whatever sends the signals, but that would have no effect as they all now have 20 or 30 “G” capability and can get signals from Mars if necessary. We have established no-phone zones and no-phone times, but it almost feels draconian to deny people access to their obsessions.
I know it’s supposed to be progress and with Google we can get all sorts of information instantly, but it really was kind of fun to consult the almanac for fishing times. Now you just say: “Hey Google – when is the best time to fish today?” By the way, Google is an idiot and we never catch much when we go out on her instructions.
One aspect that is unchanging is the necessity for real books to be read outside. The summer sun is so high and so bright it renders tablets and other devices unreadable. This wonderful phenomenon requires one to read a real bound book where you actually have to turn pages.
I know that I am a throwback and I recognize that the internet has opened all sorts of worlds to everyone. However, I can’t help but feel that families and people were closer and more involved with one another when they had to talk to each other and look at each other and listen to one another.