Exercising Your Old Soul in the New Technology Age - FamilyEducation

Exercising Your Old Soul in the New Technology Age

September 23,2011
Erin Dower

I've just about had it with technology this week. My computer's mouse keeps freezing. Mark Zuckerberg keeps messing with Facebook. And now people are starting to migrate to Google+ (very Facebookish), so now I have yet another social media platform to participate in.

So, what am I to do when I'm ready to short circuit from technology overload? My computer can't give me a hug. But it certainly can help transport me to the good ol' days...

Here are some of my favorite things that have been helping me exercise my old soul lately in this new media world:

- Watching Antiques Roadshow. Do you ever watch this PBS show about a traveling antiques-appraisal fair where people find out that their granny's silver cream pitcher is worth $30,000? It's like a  mix of a fascinating historical documentary that brings you back in time and a thrilling reality TV competition where people win big prizes. Or maybe I'm just a nerd. Anyway, check it out. Episodes are available online, and on your local PBS station. It's definitely a family-friendly show.

- Listening to historical podcasts. Modern life feels chaotic. Don't you feel overwhelmed some days by the number of breakfast cereals and pasta sauces and peanut butters in the grocery store? I think about that all the time. This NPR podcast, "How the A&P Changed the Way We Shop," transported me to a simpler (and, at the same time, much more difficult) time in history. In the early 1900s, grocery stores used to carry a dozen or so basics. Sound ideal, in a streamlined, cook-with-only-eggs-flour-and-butter kind of way? It was actually very difficult because you usually had to buy your canned goods at one store, your meat at another, and your baked goods at another -- and groceries practically cost an arm and a leg.

- Reading about another era. Slate's Permanent Record series has sucked me in. The author stumbled upon a bunch of old report cards from a 1920-'30s trade school for girls and tracked their lives and interviewed their living ancestors. He recalls the gritty years surrounding the Great Depression, when young teenagers often had to work to help support their family, and their teachers recorded blunt reviews -- like "Walks around as if she were dying—absolutely pepless."  -- in their report cards.

Go ahead! Exercise your old soul to find your balance again! And encourage your kids to, too, through activities like researching your family history and your town's history. It will put things in perspective, and it's much more fun than cursing technology and modern "inconveniences."   :-)