Kids and their Electronic Devices

I, and many of my generation, are dismayed at the way the younger generation is totally absorbed in their electronic media.  We don’t understand it, and think how much better our world was, how we didn’t need to be looking at our phones all day.

I guess I’m my mother’s son.  When I was a young adult she used to say how she didn’t like hearing all her peers talk about how much better it was before rock and roll and TV and long hair and disrespect of the government and all.  She said she wanted to know and understand what’s happening today, to listen to the music of the day.

I was at a birthday dinner where, at the table, were four of an older generation and one young adult son of the honoree.  We were all talking, and he, while paying some attention, was absorbed in his phone.  So I asked him what he was doing, what was so fascinating?

He showed me.  It was touches with his friends.  It was saying, hey, they serve this beer you like to one friend, he was telling another about the menu choices, remembering fond times with them about that food, reading about where they were, what they were up to.  While, to us he appeared disconnected, he was actually very much connected, in real time with a number of people close to him.  Geographically dispersed friends.

It was kind of sweet.

Someone posted a picture on FB recently showing three kids playing in the mud, laughing, having a good time, side-by-side with a picture of three kids today staring at their phones.  The point was how much better we had it back in the day.

Well, I liked it then, but was it better?  Or just different?

The kids in the mud had that local environment around them, and the pleasure of the companies of the other playmates.

The kids with the cell phones have the whole world around them, and the pleasure of the companies of friends without the constraints of geography.

The kids in the mud could open their eyes wide and see, well the mud and trees and sky around them.

The kids with the cell phones were looking at a small portal, but through that portal was the whole world.  Pictures from vacationing friends, events from all over the world, and an understanding of environmental issues way bigger than of that one muddy spot by a stream.

I’ve read that my discomfort with the cell phone world is mirrored by the young’s discomfort with National Parks.  They don’t want to be geographically constrained to a raft in the Grand Canyon any more than I want to try to see the world through a tiny screen.

Over Thanksgiving I listened to my grandkids play various multiplayer online games, from war games to soccer.  I listened to their excited chatter with online friends.  It was no different from the chatter we had as kids running around our real neighborhood.

And the knowledge my one grandson has of the workings of International soccer, as a business, is amazing.  All from these online games.  He’s learned things one could never get from just kicking a ball around with friends.

(But, they do both, they are very physically active as well, playing soccer and other games with their friends in the neighborhood.)

Just saying, maybe we each live in the times that are best for us.

But, our music was better.



Relationship Rules

The other day, I went to print something important, and found my printouts were all on recycled paper Nancy had left in the printer.

The other day, Nancy went to print something important, and found her printouts were all on orange paper I had left in the printer.

Clearly we need some rules about printer paper.

Two choices:

1- We should each take care to make sure we leave the printer with plain white paper in it, so the next person isn’t in for a surprise.

2- We should each take care before printing to make sure the paper we want is in the printer.

What a difference in behavior between the two!  The first makes each of us responsible for the other’s printing, the second makes each of us responsible for our own.

If we use rule #1, then, when someone winds up with print on screwy paper, they can get upset and mad at the other for ignoring a basic courtesy we agreed on.

If we use rule #2, then, when someone winds up with print on screwy paper, they’ll say, rats, I forgot to check the printer first.

Which rule best optimizes for a harmonious relationship?