1986. That was the year that new wave crooners A-Ha took home the MTV Best New Artist award, Stephen King’s horror novel "It" was published, "Miami Vice" was in its prime, and big hair and shoulder pads reigned supreme.
It was also the year that Blair McMillan and his girlfriend, Morgan Patey, were born — and the year they decided to dial back the clock to in terms of technology. For 365 days starting last April, the couple deleted all post-1986 technology from their lives.
To those of us who have grown accustomed to modern conveniences — imagine going to the bank during office hours to withdraw cash or (shudder) no email – the exercise in Ludditism may sound downright masochistic. But the couple from Guelph, Ontario, took the Draconian measures when they realized that their children, Trey, 5 and Denton, 2, were more interested in electronics than the great outdoors.
“It was a beautiful day and I asked Trey if he wanted to go outside,” said McMillan. “Trey didn’t even look up from the tablet he was playing on and told me he didn’t want to go. It got me thinking that when Morgan and I were kids, this kind of technology didn’t exist and we were always playing outside.”
Now, they read books, they use paper maps, they don’t have call waiting or even an answering machine, and they play outside — a lot. And they watch video tapes when they need an entertainment fix. Video tapes!
“We packed up our computers, tablets, cellphones, flat screen TVs and so on and put them into storage,” says McMillan. “Instead we bought an old wooden TV, a radio, a rotary phone and a Nintendo.”
Has this been a recipe for disaster? On the contrary; as a family they are exploring more, communicating more, and finding life to be rich without technology.
“As parents, we communicate more and have become way more hands on,” says McMillan. “Instead of a tablet teaching my child what the color ‘orange’ is, we have to go outside and show the boys what the color looks like ourselves. What’s funny is that the simplest things are now the things that entertain Trey the most. He loves to go outside and pull weeds with me or turn over rocks and find bugs.”
They say that for now the lifestyle is sustainable because the children are young and not yet in school, but will they continue with their “living history” project after the year is up?
“Probably not,” laughed McMillan.
Watch the family in all of their retro splendor in the video below.
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