Today we are plugged in, signed in, and logged in at any given point in time. Are you doubting me on this? You’re wrong, you have to be on the internet to be reading this. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be very detrimental to who we are as a human race. If you’re my age you’re an eighties baby, so you know what it is like without the internet, as well as our predecessors. But if you are a nineties baby or later, then you have probably had the internet your entire life, and I feel sorry for you. I feel sorry for my children, they will always know the internet, and it’s sad.
Let me put this all in perspective for you. We tell our kids how much easier things were back when we were younger, and we explain things to them about “how”, and it sounds like a lot more work to them. I remember being in middle school and doing research papers where all of my sources were out of something called a book, or encyclopedia. If I could not find enough information in the series of encyclopedias that I had on the massive shelf above my bed, then I had to get off my butt and go to the library and do research. Today, you log on to the internet and go to random websites and find the information you need in no time. If you wanted to send a picture and a message to your grandparents in Texas; you sat at the kitchen table and put pencil to paper, took a Polaroid picture (or had some film developed), put all of this in an envelope, then you sent it via U.S. Postal Service. In about a week or so they would get this letter, and either call you “long-distance” to tell you they got it or they would just write you a letter back and you would have it in another week or so. “Long-distance” calls now have to be out of the country, not a few states away. See what I mean by this seeming like a lot of work to today’s generation? If you have done any of the above, you are probably having some feelings of nostalgia right now and are feening to write a letter, or have a pen pal.
At the beginning of this I said I feel sorry for today’s generation, but so far it has seemed like I am taking there side on “how hard life was”, I’m not. I miss writing letters, I miss doing hard research, I miss putting pencil to paper. I miss when times were easier. The times where acceptable forms of payment were cash or credit, not iPay or PayPal or GooglePay. Back when credit card theft was not a huge ordeal, and cyber terrorism was something in movies like Hackers, where the likes of Crash Override, Acid Burn, and Phantom Phreak were hacking their way through the government to stop an internet meltdown. In reality, I think the movie the Matrix was loosely based off of what society is becoming, loosely. I mean think about it, the matrix itself is the internet and technology, and people do not even realize that they are connected to it because it has become their life. Then you have some people that are not connected to the matrix and are free to tap into their true potential, sure they can basically jump over buildings and bend things with their minds, but it’s a metaphor. I feel it is metaphorically saying look at your lives and imagine what it could be like if you disconnect from your “matrix”, and tap into your inner self and potential. It may not be what The Wachowskis had in mind at the time, but it kind of fits my theory of how we are all connected to technology.
The days I miss the most is being able to walk outside and join up with any number of neighbor kids and play in the streets. Back when the time to come inside from playing was when the street lights came on, when it was perfectly acceptable for children to be playing outside by themselves in the front yard at night, or playing kickball in the street without fear of any danger other than getting hit by a car. My home is in a very nice neighborhood with dead ends and cul-de-sacs, yet I am still worried when my daughter walks three blocks down to her friends house in broad daylight. Our parents did not worry about these kinds of things when we were kids, they were worried about whether we were inviting all of our neighborhood friends home for dinner, or if we were going to come home for dinner or stay at our friends.
Times were easier when I was a child for many reasons, but today I am writing to touch on one point in particular, being connected but disconnected. I find myself in this same state of mind more often than I like to admit, and it took a large storm passing through and knocking my power our last night for me to realize how connected I was. What do I mean by connected but disconnected? We’re connected to the internet, but disconnected from life. We are so in touch with our social media that we know what our family across the country had for breakfast, but we have no idea what our parents are even doing blocks away from us. Why? Can anybody tell me why? I have an idea as to why, and it’s because of SOCIAL MEDIA and the internet. My daughter has a tablet that is connected to the internet, she has her Instagram and Pinterest and Snapchat apps as well as tons of games, we have DirectTV, two XBox360s, a Nintendo Wii, our home is a WiFi hotspot. Guess what she had last night? Nothing. Sort of. The power went out and the first thing she did was grab her tablet to try to message friends to tell them and “socialize”, then she realized no WiFi meant no internet. Instead she started playing games on her tablet that did not require an internet connection, in the dark, until I put a stop to it. See, I love my daughter and my son, both very very much. Tucker is only two and was so distraught over the television not being on, he continuously grabbed the remote and tried to turn it on or tell me to turn it on; he was not grasping the concept that it was “broken”. We had candles lit, flashlights, and each other. Tuck finally gave up and fell asleep on the couch, so I carried him to his room and came back.
Of course, my eleven year old daughter is complaining about it being boring all while playing on her tablet; she’s always bored. As I said earlier, we have all the fancy technology inside the house; outside we have a trampoline, a swing set, a small playhouse/fort, sidewalk chalk, and numerous other outdoor activities. But she is still bored. She’s bored because she has nobody to “play” with. GO OUTSIDE! There are tons of kids in our neighborhood, but it’s not playing for them unless they are sitting in the shade with their tablets, iPods, or iPhones. That’s their version of playing. Get out a soccer ball, a football, a Frisbee, something! I mean, come on man. She’s the type of kid that will be sitting there in the exact same room, less than four feet away from you, watching TV and you say something to her, and she does not hear you. You have to repeat yourself several times, eventually yell at her just to get her to look up and realize you had been talking. This generation is too lazy and too in tune with their electronics. Plain and simple, and I am putting a stop to it for my family, for the most part. Anyway, back on subject.
At this point in the evening, my dad’s power had went out before he had a chance to cook dinner and I had just ordered Chinese food because I feared our power would go out. After a trail of events that lead me to bringing my dad to my house and helping me eat my Chinese dinner, dad hung out at the house for about two hours. Like I said, Tucker finally went to sleep, so it’s just my daughter, my father, and myself sitting around flashlights and candles in the living room. The entire time dad and I are socializing, talking about the storms we had when I was a kid, the June 6th storms, what we did when the power was out, we were connecting. What was my daughter doing? She’s stretched out on the loveseat playing some game on her tablet, like WTF man? SMH. Yeah, the abbreviations drive me nuts too, and I only know half of them because of the younger generation that I was in charge of at Lowe’s. The written language is disappearing too! Anyway, the daughter says she’s bored, which always hits a nerve with me and just drives me batty, so I lash back at her “It’s like camping kiddo, except inside. Under the protection of our roof from the weather, it’s camping.” All of which she replies with “Except it’s inside and we have no internet.” YOU DO NOT NEED THE INTERNET TO GO CAMPING!
I throw a look at my dad, he already knows I’m thinking there was no chance in hell I was this disconnected as a child. So we start talking about more fun stuff, ghost stories, Bigfoot, UFO’s, the things that occupied our time when I was young. I finally convince my daughter her tablet time is up and to listen to the stories, hoping she actually listens to some of them. Low and behold, she does, and is enjoying them, and keeps asking for more. We broke through the “WiFi” barrier and got her interested in verbal communication. It took an act of God, literally, to break through. The power outage caused us all to sit there and verbally communicate with one another, and actually spend time together.
Now do not get me wrong, it’s not just today’s generation. People of my generation are doing it too. It’s really sad. I am nowhere near exempt from this, as I am just as connected as the next person. I have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, all of it. Hell, I still have MySpace, just no idea how to get into it anymore. It is a habit that at the dinner table all electronics are not to be touched, but it is about to go a step further. I am highly considering taking myself and the kids back to the early 90’s. We can have our TV and video games, but the internet on our devices is going to be extremely limited. I’m not doing it just for the kids, but for myself and my sanity. There is so much bull on the internet today, that it just becomes more depressing every time you log on. I mean hell, people are on Facebook saying things like “If I get this many likes on this post, my grandfather will know he was appreciated in the military”. It’s a popularity contest on Social Media, and it is not worth it, not anymore. I am taking my family back, we have all been taken hostage by technology, and it’s not going to be in control anymore.
I mean, let’s be 100% honest here. Everyone reading this that was born in the early 90’s and before compared to the mid-late 90’s and after. Before the internet was as big as it is now, before social media. I can name one, maybe two, school shootings the entire time I was in school, roughly fourteen years including preschool. And even those did not happen until the internet began to get huge, middle school and high school years. The Columbine shootings were in 1999, so I was in like 7th/8th grade, before that I do not remember anything of the sorts. We said the Pledge of Allegiance in school, we wrote letters (hand-written letters) to our future selves and to pen pals from other countries in English class, we played on the playgrounds, we talked at lunch. We did not type text messages or send snaps, we did not YouTube music videos, we actually had our tape recorders out to record our songs on the radio or we watched MTV all day to see one certain video (Yes, MTV used to play music videos).
My point is this: We are so connected to technology and social media that we are actually disconnected from our real lives. I was extremely content in the dark without my Facebook buzzing all night, without the glow from my 55″ flat screen, without my InstaGram telling me someone wants to follow me. I miss the days where when someone wanted to be your friend they spoke to you, they worked for it, they did not just add you and read about you. You talked with people, you had conversations, you played Truth or Dare and 20 Questions. Here’s my proposal to everyone reading this, take some time away from your “life” and actually live. If you have a family that lives with you, spend time with them, not your electronics. Have a game night. Shut the TV off, turn on a radio, and enjoy their company. Get a basket or a box and put your phones and tablets in it, put them away and spend time with one another. Chances are there are things you do not even know about your own family because you simply do not communicate. You are not connected with your own family, is that not scary? Sure, your kids are going to think you are strict, a jerk, and being just downright mean, but they will thank you in the long run. Growing up my family was very “family-oriented”. We played games, we played cards, we had family dinners, we played outside together, we actually spent time together; kind of a novel idea isn’t it? So give it a shot, give your kids a REAL life, not a Kardashian life. Camp out in your living room, roast some marshmallows over an open fire (even if it is a candle in the living room), play Scrabble or Sorry!, read stories, enjoy your family, make your own adventures. Disconnect from being connected, and connect to what you have been disconnected to.