Google Minus


"Mr. Brown is so short, his grass always needs cut." - Clint & Jessi's Zany Joke Book, circa - 1980-something

When we were little, my brother and I made a book of zany jokes titled (aptly enough) “Clint and Jessi’s Zany Joke Book.” In it, we made really dorky jokes about our teachers and our family. Some of them were funny, for sure. Others were probably only funny to us (a problem I still deal with today …). Regardless, they were all a good example of turning boredom into creativity – and I’m pretty sure that book never would have been made if my brother and I grew up today, rather than 30 years ago.

In (my fave book ever) Simplicity Parenting, the author talks about the importance of letting your kids be bored. It’s in those quiet, bored moments, he says, that kids use their imagination to find something “else” entertaining to do. When they aren’t being entertained, they will make a concerted creative effort to entertain themselves.

Growing up, my brother and I did that a lot. Not having a lot of money, or a lot of awesome toys, we made do with what we did had – our imaginations. We played sports that never existed (hanger hockey, anyone?) … we made our own music videos (recorded with … nothing) … we wrote songs … wrote letters to the members of KISS … walked three miles to the mall when my parents weren’t home just to say we did it. We used our creative muscles to make the time pass. That’s something kids these days don’t often need to do.

These days, I’m worried that Blake will try to bypass crayons and fingerpaint for computers and smart phones. He’s already started asking to sit with me at the computer so he can see pictures of trains and dinosaurs. I literally find myself setting limits of five or ten minutes of computer time a day, concerned he’ll decide one day that he doesn’t want to draw his own dinosaurs, or ride on real trains, or play guitar and write his own real music.

I’m a technology girl. Clearly, I love using FB to keep up with people I care about. I love using YouTube to share once-in-a-lifetime moments. I love being able to text someone when I’m thinking of them just to let them know. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my concerns about what technology could do if all of the other creative, real-life stuff is bypassed.

I guess all of this is coming up because of the talk of Google+ lately. When I first heard of it, all I could think of was, “Really? Something else?” There is already Twitter. And LinkedIn. WordPress, and YouTube. And all of the other things we’re supposed to be using to keep in touch and advancing our careers and businesses. Do we really need one more? Seriously, how much time can we really devote to social networking before we’re actually becoming socially and creatively inept?

When it comes to Google+, I’m going to be a Google- at least for now. If it suddenly surpasses FB as the spot where everyone is (much like FB did to MySpace back in the day), I’m sure I’ll switch over. But until then, just like I’ve found myself setting limits for B’s intake of technology, I need to do so for myself – even just to retain a bit of quiet and sanity for our household … and to make sure I keep socially networking with the people that count the most – my monsters and my husband.


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