It is simple enough to claim that technology divides families: that the kids are interfacing with their iPods and X-Boxes while Mom and Dad compulsively check e-mail on their Blackberries. That Junior is busy researching his latest tattoo and tongue piercing on the internet, while Dad downloads pornography and mom zones out to the soothing pablum of Oprah and Martha. Reality TV has grown tired of dumbing us down through one media outlet, and has crept its way into every electronic device we own in the interests of embedding the cast of Jersey Shore in our collective unconcious and destroy the very fabric of reality.
Those who fret most over these possibilities to have false implanted memories of some imaginary idyll when the family unit was far more intact than it had ever truly been. They suffer from delusions that the conventional family was once the rule rather than the exceptions. I for one, blame the technology. Talking head pundits now have more modes of communication than ever. Those pining for some extinct ideal cannot escape the ever present media influence that uses subsonic mind-control technology to make them yearn for that which they can never have.
Let's face facts:
Before the latest wave of technological devices, there were walkmans for the kids and late nights at the office for the parents.
The 70's and 80's with their two income households gave rise to the scourge of "latch-key kids" and their civilization detroying lack of connection with their parents.
The 50's and 60's saw the birth of television. Sure, the whole family may have watched "together". But last I checked having your souls sucked out through your increasingly vacant eyes by the hypnotic glow a cathode ray tube does not "Quality Time" make.
Before that, we had a little thing called WWII, absentee fathers, working mothers, kids left in the care of the elderly and the strange.
Go back further and you have child labor, 70 hour work weeks for everybody and odd off-putting patriarchal convention that divided humans from one another as sharply as any Twitter feed ever could.
If anything, technology is putting the Fun in dysFUNctional. Now through the wonders of technology, my Grandmother can send me a video of someone's cat chasing a laser pointer up a wall and knocking a picture of J. Edgar Hoover to the ground. That is a bonding moment.
Thanks to technology, I can use a wider range of animated emoticons and smilies than ever before in documented human history to convey all manner of pleasure and concern in cyber-epistles to those that I love.
Thanks to technology, families can communicate their most trite and meaningless throughts in 140 character bursts, providing family members with an unprecedented level of access the insignificant trivia that makes up our lives.
The father and son fishing trip was never as widespread as the father and son World of Warcraft campaign is today.
Technology, has reduced most human interaction to a series of soundbites, text snippets, memes and self-portrait photographs taken from a high angle. It has also democratized communication so that no-one is entitled to any more or less information. We are all the same. Considering the relative dissolution of the alleged "traditional" family over the last 2000 years, that is a big step forward for widespread family togetherness.