By Allen Lea
Read the full June 2013 issue of Viewpoints.
In a world that shrouds us with technology and innovation, we sometimes forget to take the time, as the old saying goes, to stop and smell the roses. In today’s culture, it is not uncommon to see a group of friends at a restaurant, holding a conversation, not by actually talking, but by texting, Facebooking, tweeting etc. Remember when we didn’t have to take our phones out to have a conversation? An Albert Einstein quote comes to mind: “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”
DID YOU KNOW: The average American spends 8-12 hours a day living through a screen, while receiving or sending about 400 texts each month, and dedicates approximately 30% of leisure time to perusing the web.
Just about anywhere you go, free wifi abounds and reigns as a driver to attract visitors. A very few places are free from such technological advances; the McFaddin-Ward House is one of those few escapes.
Although we do offer free wifi to the public in our visitor center, the museum itself is void of all technology, except of course for security and environmental controls. Museum visitors are politely requested to leave cameras, tablets and even cell phones in a locker before they embark on a tour of the museum; and although sometimes initially hesitant, many people find the hour-long tour a relaxing retreat from the busy digital world.
From the moment visitors enter the museum they are surrounded, not by fancy computers or digital screens, but by a time capsule of the elegance and grandeur of the lives of a wealthy southeast Texas family. Touring with a docent, guests learn McFaddin family history through seeing and hearing about the collections. They envision just what “those days” were once like and in the process discover new perspectives on their own lives.
It might be worth touring the museum someday soon, just to totally immerse yourself in the sights and sounds—the ambiance of a distinctly un-technological place. The experience might be unfamiliar, but ultimately very rewarding. You may also be left with the vaguely guilty feeling that you are cheating on your smart phone.
So if you are ever in the area, do not hesitate to unplug from the noisy world and enjoy a bit of education and mental escape. Go ahead. Cheat on your phone. We won’t tell. Besides, I am sure that Albert Einstein would not be opposed to an hour- long digital detox.
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