Thanksgiving, Technology, and Just Picking a Fight

November 25: Update Your Parents' Browser Day, with photo of little girl and perhaps father at computer.
My logs tell me that nobody took this 2011 plea seriously. I blame the typeface.

Last year on Thanksgiving I made the case for ignoring social media for the day. I felt strongly enough that for the new year I even wrote about some social media behavior goals for the coming year that we could all try to follow.

The year before I cautioned you that you might get wrapped up in helping your parents (or elders in general) with tech support issues (like upgrading browsers, surfing tips to save a turkey that has caught fire, and so on).

Those are both a far cry from the prior two years where I wrote about how nifty social media could be for the holidays. Oh the heady days of 2009, with so much opportunity to come from so much interconnectedness.

In the span of four short years I had mostly decided that social media can make for an awkward and unpleasant holiday if not used properly (or, in some cases, if used at all).

Let’s Try Something Different

Maybe we should try to have ourselves a completely disconnected, proper face-to-face meal. I know this is difficult, but this time around I’m supplying talking points!


The President of the United States of America has decided we should talk about Obamacare. He says that, chances are, folks at the dinner table probably look to you, mostly as a voice of reason, on the subject. And so his team has put together a brand new site just for the holidays: It's time to have the talk.

I should note, this site was most likely not done by the same folks who built I do, however, think they were vying for a front-page spot over at TC;DR (Tab Closed; Didn’t Read):

Screen shot of holiday discussion cheat sheet at
And let’s not even get started on the print styles.

It’s impossible to make jokes about political subjects without people assuming it’s a political statement. On balance, I also offer a link for the other side of the table: and the Gulf Between Planning and Reality. The advantage here is that each side will actually be talking about different things. How is that not hilarious?


Maybe you can pose a question to the table without letting on that you know the answer? Haven’t you ever wondered how many batteries it might take to cook a turkey? I haven’t. But Wired thinks it’s a worthy topic: How Many Batteries Would It Take to Cook a Turkey?

I’ll spare you the effort of clicking the link. Just do this quick math for a 10-pound bird starting at room temperature:

Solve for black bar.


If you have any pedants in your family, perhaps you’d like to quiz them on the history of the word turkey. has a digestible (and according to the comments, mostly accurate) post that covers it: The Mistake that Gave Turkey (the Bird) the Same Name as Turkey (the Nation)

Or Just Suck It Up and Be Tech Support

If all goes wrong or you just can’t get people to bite on any debate, then you can always fall back to the safety net of tech support. Heck, you might even end up like this guy: In Which I Fix My Girlfriend’s Grandparents’ WiFi and Am Hailed as a Conquering Hero.

Now go relax. Read The Oatmeal’s comic on Thanksgiving as a Kid vs. as an Adult. Prepare for where you’ll sit using College Humor’s Thanksgiving Seating Chart (which ties in nicely with The 8 Relatives You’ll Talk to at Thanksgiving). Take this Map of Thanksgiving Dinner to plan your assault on Crudités Dam. Maybe you can debate the merits of the turkey that, like an &lquo;elected” prom king or queen, will be the National Thanksgiving Turkey as designated by the White House:

While they are both pardoned, they’ll still die an early death.

In short, disregard your family and stare at your computer/phone all day, just like the moody teen we all truly are.

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