It started civilly enough. I was sitting with my family at Burger King when I decided to break the news. "I'm writing an article," I announced. "It's about a family who goes 'unplugged' for a week."
"Unplugged?" my husband, Larry, asked.
"You know, unplugged from high-tech entertainment. That means no TV, computer games, or Net-surfing. They'll have to rely on their imaginations, conversation, and books for relaxation instead."
My then-12-year-old daughter Kaitlyn looked thoughtful. "That would be interesting, but you'll never find a family who agrees to it. They'd have to be idiots. They'd have to be "
"Us," I said. "The family in the article is going to be us."
"Gee, I'd love to help," Kaitlyn said breezily, "but I'm spending that week at Lynzee's house."
"Kaitlyn, don't be silly," Larry admonished. "We'll learn all sorts of wonderful things about each other." He patted my hand. "It's a fabulous idea, Karen. In fact, let's do it right away. Not next week, but the week after next. I'm behind you, honey."
Kaitlyn flashed her dad a payback smile. "We'll be sure to tell you how it goes."
I blinked. "What are you talking about?"
"Mom, don't you get it? That's the week Dad's in Taiwan on business."
Larry looked sheepish. "Oh, yeah. Must have slipped my mind."
We picked a week when everyone would be home. To prepare for the coming media fast, we glutted ourselves on electronic stimuli, playing computer games for hours and watching reruns of all our favorite TV shows. And when we weren't sitting comatose in front of glowing screens, we were at Wal-Mart buying board games and puzzles, squirreling them away like nuts in anticipation of a winter famine.1