Sometimes kids makes me really anxious about the future. Not because I’m thinking about my age and how many eggs I have left or anything gender specific to my child-bearing capabilities. Don’t get me wrong, I love squishy little humans but until I miraculously forget where babies come from, my womb will remain occupant-free, the dusty vacancy sign lying in a forgotten storage room.
*Note to ninth grade science teachers: If you’re going to show “The Miracle of Childbirth” in class, DON’T rewind the birthing part so we can witness the process BUT IN REVERSE. #Scarred4Life
It’s more to do with the fact that kids today are growing up with the internet and modern technology. The overwhelm of information is such that they’re not really acting like carefree, blissfully unaware ankle-biters but more like adults with poor motor function.
One time I saw a woman carrying a baby in a carrier on her back and she was holding her smartphone horizontally in front of it (Note: The baby was so young that the gender was still indiscernible which is why I’m referring to it as an “it”). Despite barely being able to hold it’s own head up, the baby used it’s chubby, uncoordinated hands to swipe at the screen to control the video that was playing. This is not the first time I've witnessed young children being able to navigate technology with more ease that I’m have with the microwave.
I didn’t get my first cellphone until I was 19 but now I see kids who probably haven’t even learned to count yet with smartphones. Who the heck are they calling?!? Dora the Explorer? Is she even cool with kids anymore?
I probably sound very crotchety; like I’m jealous of the numerous opportunities and benefits that kids growing up with the internet and smartphones will have. For example, I read somewhere that children were going to be taught coding as early as third grade. Writing lines of code, that would make me go cross-eyed, will be like breathing for them!
But I’m not hating on progress. I’m as addicted to Google as the next person. I feel naked without my iPhone glued to my hand and I can’t imagine life without Uber. Taxis? Please. Yet I grew up perfectly fine WITHOUT those luxuries. In fact, I dare to suggest that my childhood was better in some ways for it’s absence and the perspective affords me advantages that future generations will miss out on.
Here are 6 Ways My Childhood (Pre-Google and Smartphones) Rocked:
1/ WATCHING TV IRL
Back in my day… if you wanted to watch a show, you had to catch it during the scheduled air-time. The only way you’d get to watch it if (God forbid) you were away from the TV, was if you were lucky enough to catch it on repeat. Torrent sites and Netflix has enabled us to watch our favourite series whenever we please. Not only has this convenience robbed us of delicious anticipation that we used to experience minutes before our favourite program aired but it has also made it easier than ever to binge-watch to the point of confusing show plot lines and real life. We’re held captive (and inactive) by our incontrollable curiosity to see whether Olivia Pope will pick Jake or Fitz in the end. Darn you Shondaland…
2/ UNDERSTANDING PRIVACY
Back in my day… we didn’t share every aspect of our lives and inane thought we had as if it was national, breaking news. Future generations won’t know a time when every moment of their lives weren’t a matter of public record. Privacy will merely be a Facebook setting instead of something precious to be protected and valued. Their idea of reality will be Keeping Up With The Kardashians…skewed and scripted. I didn’t feel pressure to record everything I did and share it over several social media accounts. While I experience it now, I understand the difference between valuable and shareable content versus what to keep to myself because it’s too special to be subject to scrutiny.
3/ ENJOY SOME VITAMIN D
Back in my day… the world was explored out from behind the computer/smartphone screen. I guess when you think about it, playing with sticks and climbing trees seems very unsophisticated and caveman-like, not to mention downright boring in comparison to playing on whatever Xbox equivalent is out there right now. Whereas the boundaries set upon us by our parents were measured in neighbourhood landmarks, now kids are limited by the length of their power cords. I used my imagination to turn sand on the playground into shark-infested waters and sticks into swords while soaking up the sun. Even if kids today prefer playing video games to playing outside, at least we had a better tan!
4/ HOMEWORK: PRE-GOOGLE
Back in my day… to find information for a school project involved going to the library, using the card catalogue system, copy down the long dewey decimal number, hunt down the maybe one or two books that hadn’t already been checked out by my classmates who have the SAME project, look in the index of the book for a specific topic for the scant paragraph that I would base my entire thesis on. That is A LOT of work for very LITTLE pay off. While Google undoubtedly would’ve made the research process a lot less painful, those experiences taught me the value of hard work and persistence. Plus the perspective gives me greater appreciation for the efficiency of the Internet in contrast.
5/ THE AGE OF ONLINE "DATING"
Back in my day… we would get to know the person we were dating gradually through conversation. Post-Tinder, we aggressively screen our suitors on dating sites and apps then virtually stalk every social media profile they have. This access enables us to pre-judge our dates before even having formally met them. Swiping through a seemingly endless stream of candidates gives us the false impression of abundance which makes us less inclined to give people a chance. While it DOES provide more opportunities to meet a greater variety of people outside of our daily lives with similar interests and traits. I’ll still choose a meet-cute over the modern day alternative because I know that sometimes what we want isn’t the same as what we need.
6/ LIMITED WITNESSES
Back in my day… there was no need for personal branding. Nowadays it seems that you can't escape a conversation without it cropping up. I thought I had it hard, being teased by classmates for my lack of fashion sense (very traumatic memory of being told wearing pink and red was “tacky”) and knowledge of pop culture references. At least THAT ridicule was done in person. The comments people feel emboldened enough to type safely from behind their computer screens is essentially an act of emotional terrorism. Now the pressure on to look flawless 24/7 or you risk your fashion faux-pas being shown all over Instagram and Facebook for the world to criticize. At least there’s no evidence on the Cloud of me wearing my Spice Girls t-shirt.