Bring back the abacus, please

Published 11:34 am Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bring back the abacus, I say!

Moving little balls back and forth to line them up and compute mathematical numbers seems sort of fun, challenging and mind stretching to me.

It all went downhill after we decided to embark on a journey to improve on that simple little, as we see it now, play toy. Yesterday I was playing Pac-man on a simple little Atari, now I can fit a computer in my glove compartment.

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We went from simple hands-on machines we could connect with, to rack-your-head-against-an-LCD-screen, microwaves being attached to my hip, binary complications and tweets.

And it all happened overnight. One day I found my daughter playing with an old cell phone of mine.

“Give me my cell phone, honey, you don’t need that thing,” I say with my hand out.

The last thing I want is for my daughter to be captivated by a cell phone.

“It doesn’t work, Daddy,” she responds. “I’m pretending I have my own cell phone, I just texted my best friend while pretending to drive down the road! I want to be just like you when I grow up, Daddy.”

She looks at me and gives me the squishy little daughter smile.

Someone call the National Guard to come help me, please.

Fifteen years ago life went on without cell phones. It feels like last week I could care less if I had one. Out of sight, out of mind. Life still went on, the planet still turned. Man have we goofed that one up. Now, if I leave it at home, I turn a Casper pale white.

“Daddy,” my son chimes in from across the room. “Get a life, get a Facebook account.”

As he tosses his baseball up and down on my bed.

“Facebook? What’s a facebook,” I inquire.

“Facebook is one of the social media websites, Dad, everyone is doing it. You post all your life’s information on there, as well as pictures and videos so that your employer, the government, or your friends know who you are, what you’re doing, and where you’re going.”

You mean I have to update my life to the world, and the government, to stay hip and up to date? How about keeping your life a little more personal?

I may be young, but I’m a little old-fashioned at heart. I really couldn’t care less if my friends update me that they’re in the car driving to Wal-Mart, or that the neighbor down the road is mowing his lawn at 6:30 in the morning on a Sunday.

“Well, Dad, if Facebook isn’t for you, you might want to tweet! I’ve heard it’s a bit easier.”

My son sits there with his legs crossed as if he knows exactly what he’s talking about.

“Why would I walk around tweeting?” I ask confoundedly.

He raised his hand to his head and shakes it in disbelief.

“Dad, Twitter is another social networking tool people use. You can send an instant message called a tweet out for all of the world to see! When you send a message – you tweet.

That way, everyone can see what you’re doing instantly!”

I’ve heard it all now. My private life is no longer private. Sounds like the world is choosing to make their life known to everyone else.

Simplicity and privacy in our personal life has been erased like a math problem on a chalkboard.

“So in order to be a part of Twitter, I have to be a tweeter, twit my tweets out over the cyberspace, just

so all my tweeps can keep up with me,” I ask in disbelief.

“Precisely,” my wife says without looking up from her study. “You can officially live up to what we’ve been calling you all along – Mr. Twit.” Anyone for a nature walk instead?

Chris Jakubowicz lives in Columbus with his wife and children. His bi-weekly column will focus on how he and his family are trying to get back to their grassroots. Jakubowicz can be reached by e-mail at