Your Family’s Air Conditioner

Parents today have a host of concerns about technology and how it influences their kids.  There are issues of violence on television, internet pornography and abusive lyrics on the radio.  But have you ever asked how air conditioning has affected your family?

Air conditioning?  Yep, that’s right.  In the past, before the advent of electricity, when a household member was cold, they hovered around the fireplace.  When it was too warm, they made their way out to the front porch for some fresh air and lemonade.  It was the family’s grand central station.  Inevitably, conversations would be struck, games played, jokes told, memories made.

Go into a modern household now and almost invariably you will find each member of the family in their own separate room doing their own separate thing.  And we can attribute this all to a comfortable 72 degrees Fahrenheit.  There is no longer the physical need to meet at a particular place, so families spend less time together.

So is the solution to rid ourselves of air conditioning?  I wouldn’t go that far.  But, as a parent, have you ever thought about how modern technology impacts your family and if this has a positive or negative affect?  The Amish have.

Technology can be a great thing.  Before the turn of the century, most American adults suffered from some form of toothache.  Modern dentistry wasn’t modern yet and sometimes the dentists did more harm than good.  So I’m glad dentistry has made progress and I am one guy who is exceedingly happy that he doesn’t have a toothache.

So we’re agreed on dentistry, but what about cell phones, beepers, television and computer games?  Have they drawn us together as a family or separated us into our own little worlds?  Can you turn off these gadgets when they consistently take you away from family time?  Or is technology now your mistress?

Thoreau once commented that we do not ride the train, the train rides upon us.

He meant that technology was no longer our servant but our master.  With all of this new progress, we invariably threw out some timeless principles not because they weren’t any good, but because they were, well, old.

C.S. Lewis has a term for this – “chronological snobbery”.  The person afflicted with chronological snobbery has contempt for past virtues and ideas because they’re not “cutting edge”.  But progress is not simply movement, but movement in the right direction.  And the historical ideas of love for family, parental involvement, faith, and strong family time are unquestionably integral to a happy and fulfilled life.

So be on the lookout for how much technology may be hurting your family.  And this doesn’t mean taking a sledgehammer to your air-conditioner.  We should examine all areas of our lives to make sure they’re where they need to be.  And, after all, it is that old guy Socrates who said: “An unexamined life is not worth living.”  Old stuff can be pretty cool after all.