From the Fireplace to the TV: The Evolving Center of our Life Together

What is the center of our life together as families?  What brings us together and unites us on a consistent basis?  Albert Borgmann writes:

Since before central heating was developed the fireplace was the center where the family found warmth and light and where they joined together in activities.  The hearth ordered their days, sustained their relationships, and centered their life together.

Obviously, much has changed over the years.  With the dawn of the technological age, the center of our life together quickly evolved from the fireplace to the T.V.  Whereas the fireplace brought warmth, light and relational activity, the T.V. has brought a relatively cold, dark atmosphere of isolation.  Yes, there was a time when families gathered together around the couch and watched their favorite TV shows like the The Brady Bunch or The Cosby Show.  But for the most part, those days are gone.

Robert D. Putnam, in his eye-opening book, Bowling Alone, says,

Among children ages 8-18, less than 5 percent of their TV-watching is done with their parents, and more than one-third is done entirely alone.

These statistics shouldn't suprise us.  TV has done more to divide us than it has to unite us.  Families are as disconnected as ever. 

So what has replaced the TV as the center of our life together?  You guessed it, cell phones.  Cell phones have become the place where we call, text, email, blog, twitter, and often settle for little impersonal updates about our lives.  We get "The Family Plan" to "stay connected" as a family, but are we really connected?  Are we experiencing life together the way God intended?  Are we coming together on a consistent basis?

Maybe we need to go back to sitting around the fireplace.  But seriously, what do you do as a family to bring everyone together week-in and week-out?