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Eric Yaverbaum Headshot

What Would Norman Rockwell Think About Facebook?

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I'm a workaholic. I admit it. It would be real easy to blame technology and being in the communications industry as the reason I haven't taken a real vacation from my office since I sailed the Caribbean 25 years ago.

My family spends this week together every year. We could be mistaken for a Norman Rockwell holiday painting...well, except for the laptops, blackberries, iPhones, iPads and ringtones. Oh and those ringtones... when one cell phone rings everyone dives! Pavlov's dog for the 21st century?

My family is very close. We live in different cities, but we all speak several times a week. And we spend this cherished week together every year for as long as any of the grandchildren can remember. While it's as special a week as it always has been, something a little different is happening between meals.

As I look around me now a days... I see I'm not the only one answering emails and checking my social networks. I woke up to my teenage daughters Tweet that she was at aerobics with my mother. My nephew is on addictinggames.com...my son is on Facebook. My niece is skyping with her boyfriend. My brother-in-law and sister are playing a game called "Words With Friends" from Zynga on their cell phone. My dad is on ESPN.com checking sports news. And my mom is on audiblebook.com to see which book she will download to her phone. We have enough technology in one room to run a small country!

Before Rockwell fans get the wrong picture, we all cried as we read our entries to my dad for his 75th birthday, from a book we made him online from mixbook.com. Well... I did.

It's quite remarkable if you think of how technology and social media has invaded every aspect of our lives. Every occasion. Every day we can find an electrical outlet and wireless Internet. Surely Santa would have an iPhone and be texting on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post if the technology was around then.

This all begs the question, are we all closer or is the technology that has become a part of our routine changing everything about the way we socialize? Are we all addicts or just closer because we have the ability to be in touch 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Do we need our laptops and smart phones when we are in the same room or should we check them at the door before we lose another "real" special moment together?

The popular answer or conclusion many will come to is that technology is good for work, but not for family. Of course, you shouldn't be bringing your cell phone to dinner so you can check your emails. It's a holiday for crying out loud! Precious time with loved ones is no time to tweet for sure? While any reasonable person would urge you to get offline and be present in the moment while you can be... is that where we are heading?

The answer to that question will define the way we interact with family... with friends... at work... and at play. Look around when you go to a restaurant. How many people at the pool are typing away with two thumbs on their blackberry while they sit in the sun? How about the baseball game? Church? The New Years party you will go to? Go ahead, turn off your technology for a day. It's harder than you think... even if you're not a workaholic!

Happy and very healthy 2012. Can you resist commenting? I hope not!

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