Excerpt from a TNR review of “The Winter of Our Disconnect”
Maushart’s book is structured around what she calls “The Experiment,” a prelapsarian fantasy of returning to the predigital age. What would happen, she wondered, if she pulled the plug on her family’s media activity for six months? Inspired by Thoreau’s Walden, she decided to enact the twenty-first-century equivalent of moving to a cabin in the woods: no iPhones, no computers, no iPods, no television. (Her kids were allowed to use computers outside their home when necessary—for instance, at the library to do homework.) “Like many other parents,” she writes, “I’d noticed that the more we seemed to communicate as individuals, the less we seemed to cohere as a family.” Was the speed and intensity of multitasking worth living a life of “quiet digital desperation”?