Town Crier: Connect by disconnecting
by Yolanda Barial
Aug 17, 2012 | 3479 views | 3 3 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Walking into the restaurant I could not help but notice how many adults were texting, looking at their iPads, scrolling through their Androids while sitting at a table with other adults who were doing the same thing.

I was amused at what looked like a bunch of headless humans sitting with a bend in their necks staring at an illuminated object as if their lives depended on it — like ostriches with their heads in the sand, oblivious to the sights and sounds of the environment in which they were seated.

Walking down the street I see children clumped in groups with cords creeping out of their shirts, climbing up and into their ears. They bounce, bob and dance to their own private concert — each one to a different rhythm, occasionally engaging in conversation and eye contact. Our children are following the pied piper down a path that sounds good, and yet can certainly lead to harm.

At a time when we are so connected and in touch with anything almost immediately after it happens, we are so not connected.

Instant access, as a society, allows us to know much more than we need to know — often times much more than we need to know about nothing. Our children are living in a time that we created. A time in which knowing too much has become too much.

We must reconnect them to themselves by reconnecting to ourselves. We must remove the distractions that surround us every minute of the day, a feat that requires sacrifice and planning.

Squeezing in a few times a week where our children disconnect is important. Learning to socialize is important.

Instead of sitting in a restaurant with your children, with all of your technology on the table, leave it in your purse or in your pocket. Or, better yet, in the car. Unless there is some reason that is life-altering or it happens to be your job, an hour or two at a restaurant ain’t gonna hurt nobody.

Ask your child to take the roving cord out of their ear, and do the same. Encourage them to listen to the music that is playing over the sound system at the restaurant. Pick your head up as they tune in, and tune into them.

Talk to your child, let them talk to you. Listen, look at them in the eyes, listen to the sounds of laughter, encourage them to order their own food, be kind to the wait staff and smell the food.

Ask them about their music and what they like, tell them what you did that day, touch their hands, tell them something you like about them.

Don’t lecture. Teach them to say please, thank you and excuse me (and not my bad), by you saying please, thank you and excuse me. Tell them you love them.

Time and connection are what our children will remember. Time and connection are what our children deserve.

• Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mom. She is among a select group of local residents with columns in the Tracy Press.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
August 17, 2012
What a great column and how true. I have been incensed at such behavior even in my own home at family gatherings. Great advise.
August 17, 2012
excellent column. all too often we see this in restaurants and fast food places. you might even see it @ your own dinner table. i personally cannot stand it when people are together to be together and they are texting and listening to music... it's not only rude, it's insane.. why get together???

lastly, thank you Yolande for a thought provoking, conversation starter column. i hope peoople who read this will take it to heart and have a talk w/ themselves and their families about this subject.

looking forward to your next column!!!
August 17, 2012
One of the best Town Crier letters ever, simple but yet to me extremely important points which touch on some of the reasons we are regressing as a society.

It's disturbing and sad to be sitting in a restaurant and seeing family after family sitting down, then the first thing the kids and oft times parents do, is pull out the cells phones or whatever other electronic device is the latest rage. Worse yet, it's pathetic seeing people standing at a bank tellers window yaking on their cell phone, it's amazing so many people don't get how rude they are when doing so. It's no wonder we have such a low level of civil discourse, and why it seems way too few teenagers have good communication skills.

Here's a hint, when we are speaking to someone face to face, especially someone doing their job trying to provide services to us, that person should be our focus and deserves our full attention, anything less is flat out rude.

Hopefully there's a lot more parents and people in general like Yolonde, and for those who aren't I hope they start to wake up and think like her.

We encourage readers to share online comments in this forum, but please keep them respectful and constructive. This is not a space for personal attacks, libelous statements, profanity or racist slurs. Comments that stray from the topic of the story or are found to contain abusive language are subject to removal at the Press’ discretion, and the writer responsible will be subject to being blocked from making further comments and have their past comments deleted. Readers may report inappropriate comments by e-mailing the editor at