Sunday, December 21, 2008

The American Family of the Future (AFoF)

Not too long ago, I was in the Los Angeles Airport (Delta terminal), and in came the American Family of the Future (AFoF). A dad, a mom, one boy, and one girl. The parents were in their mid- to upper- thirties, and the kids were probably 10 or 12, maybe younger. Each was "plugged into" an electronic gadget, some sort of "pod", or as they say in Flight Attendant lingo, "personal electronic device" (PED). Earplug wires were dangling.

The team of four sat down without looking at one another, and were content in playing with and/or listening and/or seeing what was going on in their electronic device, until the mom told the other three to "go get me some fries".

Without looking at mom, the son gets up, and heads toward the closest fast food etablishment. Before taking two steps, the dad said "Don't forget the ketchup". As the son returned with the "fries", they were still "living within" their PEDs to the point they said not one word to one another, as they ate the packages of "fries". Connected, but NOT CONNECTED.

I have seen the same phenomenon in other countries, so the AFoF culture has spread. For example: four Singaporean friends (nothing personal against Singaporeans at all) can be sitting at the same cafe table, and not speak one word to each other because they are so busy "texting" to other friends. Each is in their own little world. Connected in a way, but really NOT CONNECTED.

So, what does this say about us as a culture? How long can we stay connected, if we really aren't connected? Can we feel someone's pain, if we only communicate through "PEDs"?

The next time your child says in their prayers "Bless mama, bless daddy," and down the list, let's hope they're not thinking of you from their PED address book. (Think I'll have another cup)


  1. And I often think I'm the only one who wonders about this not connectedness. I wish so many things for my children and yet my biggest wish is for them to stay grounded in this world - and retain the ability to be "unplugged" at least sometimes!
    You have a grandchild who thinks you can still grow up - that is fabulous. Perhaps you can delay the unconnectedness a bit. Grandparents seem magic that way.

  2. Very nice comment. I don't believe we (as the human race) really understand yet the impact of this "quick-connect" technology. (Yes, I use it) But, human-to-human "touch" is the way it is meant to be.