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A CAUTIONARY TALE FOR THE SEASON | Business

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A CAUTIONARY TALE FOR THE SEASON
                                        A CAUTIONARY TALE FOR ALL SEASONS        When my ex-husband and I were first married in 1984, we had one TV - with rabbit ears-  and one VCR, in a cozy, but adequate two bedroom apartment. By the time we divorced twenty years later, we had three TVs, all hooked up to an antenna AND cable, five working VCRs, and hundreds of VHS tapes of programs that had been recorded but never watched, purportedly stockpiled for "retirement," which I sold for $150 on my way out of the three bedroom condo. The last five years also brought a computer that could access the Internet, in addition to an older one which was basically a word processor. I silently saw with each increase in media, more and more distance in the relationship, and secretly blamed this veritable Circuit City, a chain that spanned the marriage and met its demise about the same time, as responsible for the ultimate breakup of the union. The more technology that came into our lives, the less we communicated. A TV went on as soon as my ex-husband got up, entered the house, entered a room. Similar to Princess Diana's comments with respect to Camilla, it became "a bit crowded," both literally and figuratively, and I was displaced as a wife. The final straw came over a Penn State game in September of 2001, the start of which interfered with his paying for storage on his overflow stuff that could not fit into our home. For some reason, the location had closed before noon for a brief period and was not open when my ex-husband drove by to remit his monthly fee. He came home IN A RAGE, backed me up against the refrigerator, yelling as if this situation were my fault, instead of using logic to realize that I was going out later and could take care of it; it could be done via credit card over the phone; there were still days left before the 1st so it was not urgent. Within a few weeks, he was gone...for good, along with his precious Joe Paterno - and a tall totem pole of priorities that it had become painfully clear I was at the bottom of...if on at all. Happy Birthday to me! For all intents and purposes, I hadn't had a partner in a long while, just someone who went from the couch or the computer to work and back again. A man unemotionally available, but capable of getting worked up over "the darndest things." 
     Fast forward ten years, and the world is full of "communication" devices and entertainment choices, whatever we want to keep us from being bored with ourselves and having to talk to a real person face to face. More and more people seem to relate to each other through these technological wonders, even when in close proximity. It sounds lonely and much worse than my days of "competing" against a stationary TV and dial up Internet for attention and affection. With such an emphasis on "the me" over "the we" - "I" this, "I" that - it's no surprise that the Oxford University Press declared "selfie" the 2013 New Word of the Year. It's also scary...
     I write this as a barrage of ads for the holidays have replaced the political ones - "buy me," different subject -  and Black Friday has moved to Thanksgiving evening, Grey Thursday followed by earlier starts for Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, logistically making it easier for us to mindlessly load up our lives. I have one TV, one VCR/DVD combo, a digital antenna, one desktop computer, no smart phone - and no bills to support more than I could ever use unless I devoted my days, 24/7, to attending to media. Just enough. Humans are analog, still, and need downtime to optimally function. Staying "wired" all the time, well, makes us "wired." Once anything crosses from being a tool to a tether - and a launch pad, no pun intended, into the land of addiction - a reevaluation is in order. Besides making a few entrepreneurs rich as we sheepishly adopt their vision for our world, and propping up the national economy for now, the consumer culture - must have "the new," must have it NOW - is making US impoverished, on both a macro and micro level, and not just financially. Instead of continuing to be enslaved by artificially created wants that are not real homo sapien needs, perhaps put some reason in the season, and avoid relationship suicide by remembering less is more.
     Divorce filings typically spike in January, my own included in 2003. A cautionary tale . Because in the words of the Bacharach/David song, "...a chair is not a house, and a house is not a home..."...and that goes for everything from big screen TVs to small screen "smart" phones as well.   

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