A while back I was sitting at dinner here in Austin with my mom and some friends I grew up with back in Ohio. We all sat around visiting while we waited for our food, and the kids played on various iPhones and iPads. I turned to their mom and said, “Watch. I’m gonna freak out Bryce.” He was the oldest of the kids. I got his attention and watched as he paused his game. I then told him that when his mom and I were his age there was no such thing as a cell phone or home computer and the internet didn’t exist. I watched as his eyes grew big and he exclaimed, “HOW DID YOU SURVIVE?!?!”
We all had a good laugh, but he made a good point that kids today will never understand. In the last decade or so, we have grown accustomed to being able to reach someone at any moment. There’s rarely a time when I receive a phone call without knowing beforehand who is on the other end. If I need the answer to a question, I can just pull up a browser on my phone as opposed to thumbing through the pages of a World Book Encyclopedia. We have become so connected to each other that we have begun to disconnect from those sitting right next to us.
I was recently watching Star Trek Into Darkness and started laughing when I realized that their communicators are basically cell phones with the speakerphone always turned on. Back when the original series came out, this type of technology was AMAZING! Now, I watch this wondering how they don’t have a better means of communication in the 23rd century. Even Uhura was wearing a “futuristic” Bluetooth device as a part of her signature look. I remember as a kid watching The Jetsons and thought how cool it would be to talk to someone over the phone and be able to see them at the same time…enter Skype!
The truth is, as a child I survived just fine not having these advances in technology. Would I go back to the way it was? Well, of course not as the conveniences of today are extremely enticing, but there is something to be said for being able to disconnect and live in the moment. I know I’m guilty of having my head buried in my phone while I’m out, but that’s usually when I’m alone. After all, there was a time when I would be away from home and be COMPLETELY unreachable. It didn’t mean I was lying in a ditch by the side of the road, but rather it was just the norm.
Considering the technology that surrounds us today, I wonder what kinds of things I can bring up that would freak out a kid born in the decades to come. Maybe it’ll be something like the fact that we drove our cars on the GROUND or that our houses weren’t self-cleaning. Now that I think about it, could someone work on that last one?!?! We need that invention PRONTO!!