I have always imagined the Molineaux household to be a replica of the Royal Family; the one with Jim and Barbara rather than Elizabeth and Philip.
I am not making this comparison because I swear a lot and sit around in my vest or that we alternate our family alcohol consumption with drinking tea.
No! I speak of such things because we have been, for many years, a family that congregates around the TV even when there seems to be little of interest to view. It never ceases to amaze me that we have over seven hundred channels available and yet still we complain that there is nothing to watch.
What surprises me even more is that, in our search for entertainment, we can spend the whole length of a programme flicking from channel to channel before going back to the one that we started at. Even when the adverts come on we embark on a flicking session and often end up forgetting which programme we were watching.
I am not complaining about all of our TV experience because we, like many others, find a great deal of pleasure in arguing about the scores awarded to celebrity ballroom dancers or debating the comments given to singers who have been deemed to be factored with a large amount of X.
I had thought that this was the picture of our future until a few days ago. I walked into the living room, after doing one of those jobs that it seems only Dads can do, expecting to find my precious family huddled around the box in corner. The TV was indeed switched on but the sound was at a low level whilst the three Molineaux females present (wife and two youngest daughters) were all sat typing away on lap top computers.
Amazed, I stood and watched for a moment and then asked a few questions to find out what had brought this seismic change in our lounge room activities.
Daughter number four was simultaneously watching video clips on YouTube (think computerised low budget TV channel) and ‘speaking’ to her friends on MSN (think an electronic version of passing notes around at school).
Daughter number three was engrossed in a video editing session whilst listening to music on an IPod through her head phones (think miniature record player that isn’t affected by dust).
My wife, who is curiously able to use a computer but not equipped enough to tune in her own car radio, was setting up own Face Book page (think diary, photo album and scrapbook shared with others). The girls had banned her from having a My Space page (think Face Book but for younger people) because they were worried that their friends might find out.
Engrossed in their own cyber worlds they would occasionally communicate their findings to each other, yet none of them seemed to have noticed that football was on the TV. What are these amazing pieces of electronic wizardry that have the power to quench negative comments about sport on the telly?
Is this the future for our families? Will the TV be merely background noise to the sound of computer keyboards? Are we about to leave behind our Royal Family status?
I shared these thoughts with my wife who was horrified at even the thought that we resembled Jim and Barbara. ‘We are nothing like them’ she protested as she went off to make a pot of tea.
When I was younger entertainment choices were simpler. We all watched TV and chose from three channels some of which only showed programmes for part of the time. The next day we would laugh at Morecambe and Wise as we shared the experience again.
Sitting around the TV was what we did in the evening when Dad came home from work. We were real people watching made up stories about imaginary characters.
Now we can listen to music whilst checking out websites and email friends with football on the TV in the background.
There is one benefit to all these changes; whilst the girls spend their time surfing the net I get to use the remote control (think one of the greatest inventions of all time).