I built my family on the Internet, truly. I met my partner on Plenty of Fish, managed our wedding invitations by email and sifted through babynames online. Before our extended family descends for dinner in our Toronto home, as they do every Friday, there is a flurry of texts, phone calls and FaceTime messages.
Our connected devices are conduits for connecting us: smartphones, tablets and computers gather our recipes and menu plans and capture and share our memories. Streaming provides our music, and Google settles (most of) our debates.
In our family, it all comes down to the food. And in summertime, it’s the smoky flavour of a backyard BBQ that draws us together.
My partner, Mark is the charcoal grill master, his sister is our resident dessert queen, and I balance them out with lots of vegetables—a mix of freshly delivered produce from my online grocer and the riches from my own garden.
I love the challenge of assessing what we have, hopping online for ideas and letting the ingredients determine the dishes. Of course, no matter what we’ve planned, my mother-in-law always shows up with more food. My sister lives across the country, and joins us via FaceTime. It’s semi-organized chaos, but deliciously so.
Perhaps this sounds familiar? Canadians spend more time online than any other nation—nearly half of that on mobile devices. We may still have a reputation as plaid-clad outdoor lovers, but in reality (or real time) the fabric that binds us is increasingly woven from fibre optic cables. We love our BBQs and the great outdoors—and we love sharing pictures of them online.
Like most kids of the ’80s and ’90s, I have embraced the advances that bring us together. As a child, I dreamed of a robot to do my chores and expected technology to take care of basic tasks. Instead, it has helped me find love and build a family. Our family traditions thrive, even as our methods of communicating them evolve.