Last year, the humble McMillan family did something radical: The Canadian clan decided to get rid of all gadgets and technology made after 1986. For the past year, the McMillans have lived without any of the comforts of modern technology, a decision that Blair McMillan, the family’s patriarch, made after his young son told him he’d rather play with his iPad than enjoy the sunshine outdoors.
Bye-bye, i-devices and Google services and news from Yahoo. The kids played video games on an original Nintendo. The family listened to music on a cassette deck. And if the McMillans needed directions somewhere, they would unfold a good old-fashioned paper map.
Now, according to Canada’s CBC News, the McMilllans are going back to the future. After a year without any newfangled gizmos produced after 1986, the McMillan family has ended its ban, re-welcoming the technology it had forsaken for so long.
In a wide-ranging interview with the CBC, Blair McMillan called the day bittersweet.
“I’ll just miss relaxing in the family room,” McMillan told the CBC, “while the kids play and there’s no distractions and I’m not obviously caught up in my phone.”
He is looking forward to some of the comforts of modern technology, however, especially being able to keep up with friends via text message and online chat. Though he called the year a “real positive experience,” he did bemoan how cut off he was from his friends.
“The most challenging part would have been that we are out of the loop with everybody else,” McMillan told the CBC. “And we did live in our own little box in our house because we kind of cut ourselves off from the rest of the world, because the only way we could talk to people was to call, and nobody does that as much anymore.”
(Another challenging part, I have to imagine, would be the hair, and the outfits, which the McMillans also fashioned to resemble 1986. Check out the mullets on those kids!)
The McMillans’ year of living wirelessly is an extreme example of the recent trend of unplugging, in which folks who are overwhelmed by their email and phones stash their devices away and enjoy life without touchscreens. The movement is picking up steam: The National Day of Unplugging, an event that challenges everyone to live offline for 24 hours, recently celebrated its fifth anniversary this past March. Advocates of “digital detox” include media mogul Arianna Huffington and talk show host Mika Brzezinski.
Add the acid-washed jean cutoff-wearing McMillans to that cohort. Enjoy your well-earned cellphones, McMillan family. You’re gonna love Flappy Bird.