The Winter of our Disconnect Susan Maushart
Published by: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin , London, 2010.
Written by an American single-mother, living in Perth, Australia, this book covers six months largely “unplugged” from the Internet, iPods, and cell phones. It is part memoir and part diary. Maushart unevenly includes many interesting references to various studies related to multi-tasking and education, Internet addiction, and recommendations that young children have very limited “screen time” watching television. (The author notes that most parents routinely ignore such suggestions).
The subtitle, How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone) Pulled the Plug on Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale is a bit misleading. The family rediscovers board games and becomes better at interpersonal relationships, and one son spends time seriously studying saxophone that previously would have been spent “gaming.”
Maushart does include many references to Thoreau and his sense of private space. However, like Thoreau’s excursion at Walden Pond, this is largely a short term experiment, concluding with a countdown to becoming “reconnected.” While entertaining with an often irreverent sense of humor, it is somewhat unsatisfying, like a book on “How to be a Vegetarian for Six Months” with an anticipated return to previous bad habits, binging on electronic junk food after a crash diet of abstinence.