What a time to be alive. Modern innovation and ingenuity has radically changed the way we live our day to day lives. The advent of technology has created an intertwined global marketplace through mediums like social media and while it has seemingly brought us closer together culturally, it has also driven us further apart socially. We can interact with virtually anyone, anywhere, with just a tap on a tiny 6” screen. Our children are tech savvy early on, as they are now raised not just with the technology available but often times they are raised principally by the technology itself. There is nothing more comforting as a parent then knowing that I can check out entirely and just let daddy iPad do the cognitive laboring.
In 2015, you can live entirely within your phone. In place of using social media to enhance the social experience of actual real-life relationships, one can forego human interaction entirely and slip into and out of society at their whimsy simply by swiping across a screen. Talking has been replaced by texting. Newspapers have been replaced by the internet. Family game night has been replaced by Words with Friends. Social validation and acceptance has been replaced by Instagram. And gossip ridden sewing circles, day time television, and virtually any interpersonal conflict has been replaced and relocated to Facebook. No individual ever needs to leave their home anymore. The entire human experience can be achieved remotely. The iPhone 7 is even rumored to have mechanical arms that can reach out and hug you.
But with this dramatic push to access everything through a handheld device, experiences that were once a common component of childhood are extinct. Modern children will never know the apprehension of recording a song off the radio and just hoping…HOPING…that the DJ wouldn’t talk over the music. You’d call into your favorite local FM station and request a song…then sit anxiously with your thumb on the red “record” button of your Walkman – or if you were really cool, your Home Alone Talkboy – just praying you’d get a clean cut for yourself.
These technology spoiled children will never know the pain and embarrassment of getting your sausage fingers stuck in the rotary phone dial. Or hitting the wrong hole on the last digit and having to start over. Kids these days complain about having to wait for a YouTube video to complete buffering but will never understand that there was once a time when your VCR would actually eat the VHS tape if it felt like it.
Now we can point and swipe and click and play and access everything we want…as long as we always remember to strategically place phone chargers around our life…but there was once a time when we would could charge our Nokia 8210 once every 96 days since all we did with it was play snake and make the occasional phone call. My iPhone lost 4% just sitting here as I type this. Now we can laugh, cry, and experience the entire range of human emotion without even leaving the couch.
Convenience has become far too convenient. There were few things in life more depressing that strolling into Blockbuster only to find that the movie you wanted was already rented. At which point you’d ask the cashier when it was due back…then return on that very day to rent it. You’d scurry home and slide that bad boy into your double deck VCR and do some illegal copying onto a blank VHS. What a rebel you were. But despite your thievery, you’d always remember to Be Kind, Rewind.
Risk management was paramount to the individual. There were all kinds of daily risks that we tried to protect ourselves from. Like losing your Playstation memory card lest you be unable to pick-up your progress on Crash Bandicoot. Now all saved game data goes to some cloud and is retained forever with no risk factor. Where’s the fun in that? Kids these days will never experience the thrill of hiding lewd adult publications in strategic locations around their bedrooms. There was once a time when finding pictures of naked people was a distinct challenge and we, the resourceful generation that we are, climbed that Everest routinely. The smartphones, search engines, and the “clear history” feature have erased that experience altogether.
The propensity for malfeasance and the inclination towards isolation is heightened when the challenges that used to make-up our lives are removed. It’s become so normal, in fact, that we readily complain when a webpage takes longer than 0.7 seconds to load…when Siri can’t find the local Panera…or when the grease smudge on our iPhone prevents the Starbucks reader from accepting our digital barcode. The world stops when technology stops and without an internet connection, we’ve become far too useless. However, it’s important to remember that the next time you suffer a panic stroke caused by a slow internet connection while pinning pictures of cats to your vision board during your morning bowel movement, you’ll still have to come to at some point and wipe your ass manually.