Whatever age or generation we may be, all of us have had to adjust to the amazing communication push-button technology that has slowly invaded our homes and our lives over the past half century or so. I really hope that most of us have eventually been able to fall in love with and figure out these new toys, because now we have multi-TV program choices in HD and 3D with split-screens, we are able to contact people halfway around the world in just a few seconds, and we have all sorts of computers, phones, iPads and Pods and all the rest that can perform instant magic for all ages at the flick of a finger. Just how far has this electronic mayhem come, and when did it all start? I got some great answers this week when I received a neat email from my brother that was entitled ‘The Stranger’, which might just possibly be some required reading in each and every modern household. This new and flamboyant visitor likely arrived in most households in the 1950s, was a little shy at first, but over the years has become a 24-7 resident in just about every room of our palatial homes.
A few years ago after I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning, dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and we soon invited him to live with our family. The Stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on in.
As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, he had a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught me good from evil, and dad taught me to obey. But the stranger….he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries, and comedies.
If I wanted to know anything about politics, history, or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present, and even seemed able to predict the future. He took my family to the first major league baseball game, he made me laugh, and he made me cry. The Stranger never stopped talking, but dad didn’t seem to mind.
Sometimes, mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for some peace and quiet. I wonder now if she ever prayed for that stranger to leave.
Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honour them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home, not from us, our friends, or any visitors. Our long time visitor however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush.
My dad didn’t permit the liberal use of alcohol, but the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished.
He talked freely (much too freely) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.
I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked and NEVER asked to leave.
More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has now blended right in, but is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first. Still, if you could walk into my parent’s den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner just waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watching him drawing his pictures, which quite often made us lose complete track of our time, and disrupted our families’ daily schedule.
His name? … we just call him ‘TV.’ He has a wife now and we call her ‘Computer.’ Their first child was called ‘Cell Phone.’ the second was ‘iPod.’ and just born this year was a grandchild called ‘iPad.’ Oh my … how true this is, and there is no doubt that this buzzing and beeping family fun with all these new fancy gizmos will continue to grow and flourish long into the future. Whatever the case, we will just keep on tuning in and enjoying our favourite television shows and games, as well as tweeting, texting, and playing with all the rest of our wild and wonderful toys. Along the way we should also try to turn all these gadgets OFF, and please take a little precious time to … get outside and enjoy some fresh air, get some exercise and play a physical game, as well as try chatting face to face with others, especially our favorite family and friends, who are by far the most important people in our lives for us to stay plugged in’ to.
Have a great week all of you.