Smart Solutions: Technology now our link to each other

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

Like many, I have a complicated relationship with technology. On the one hand, I appreciate the convenience of my laptop and my iPhone. But the downsides include the glitches and the amount of time I spend on these devices for work and other purposes.

Social media is another concern, especially when it comes to my daughter. With today’s teens constantly on their phones, they rarely have a normal conversation. Even texting has taken a backseat to popular apps like Snapchat that provides a new way to communicate.

When schools first closed, my daughter was having a tough time adjusting to being away from her friends and stuck at home with her parents.

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My mother said she wished my daughter had hobbies like hers to keep her occupied, like painting and reading, and I agreed. When I shared this with my daughter, she told me she had lots of hobbies.

Her response made me realize that all of her favorite activities involved her friends. Despite the unhealthy attachment these kids have to their phones, they’re more connected than I previously thought. They had to be physically separated during this time for me to see the truth.

Like many high school students, my daughter enjoys sports and clubs and travel, along with other extracurricular activities she gets to do with kids. Now that she and her classmates have been torn apart, they’ve started talking more on their phones through FaceTime. The sound of their laughter is like music to my ears.

Transitioning away from friends and events wasn’t easy for me either as we both inherited the social butterfly gene from my mother. Now I find myself relying on technology to connect with those I can’t see in person in order to stay in touch.

All of the amusing cartoons and videos shared confirm that laughter really is the best medicine, especially when we have an overwhelming situation that is beyond our control.

When I told my brother how hard it was for my daughter to be missing school and sports and hanging out with friends, he said at least she has technology to connect with them, which wasn’t an option for anyone during the Spanish flu pandemic.  

As I tried to explain to her in the beginning, this was still a pretty cushy existence we had so far compared to most emergency situations. Not only did we have our health, we also had food and shelter, water and power, and Wi-Fi.

It would be a lot harder to stay entertained at home without all the streaming options on TV.

For now, I am grateful for the technology that allows my daughter and her friends to stay in touch as they meet the social distancing requirements that prevent the typical pastimes for teens like sleepovers, school trips and car rides. Her laptop also lets her do online learning and testing and college research since campus visits are out of the question right now.

As my husband said when I told him about her hobbies, maybe we’re more connected than we think. While I once blamed technology for tearing people apart, it’s the glue holding us together as we shelter in place.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at