Many times, like now, It is 3 am, and I find myself thinking about society and my youth. I’m pretty sure most people as they get older think about the past and how the world was. You hear those typical sayings, “youth is wasted on the young” or “back in my day”? Every generation believes they are better than the next generation and, every current generation thinks they are better than the previous.
I think this is probably more prominent now. If you look back over the decades, there were many changes with each generation, but they were more subtle. Cars were made safer and more reliable, home appliances became better, education opportunities improved, and quality of life became better. From my perspective, this changed quite a lot around 2000, give or take a few years. Around this time, we saw some major technological developments. Cell phones became more commonplace, computer games became more advanced, and we started to see the advent of social media. That term did not exist 20 years ago. All of these things taken individually are great. It is easier to reach somebody, you can converse with more people all over the world, and some of the gaming is so lifelike it seems like an actual TV show. These are just a few of the major differences, and there are some downsides.
When I was growing up, I just went outside to play. Our parents did not have to worry too much about us, other than possibly a broken bone. When we wanted to talk to somebody, we called them on the phone. I still remember dialing 4 digits to call the kid up the street. We only had a handful of friends, and they were in your neighborhood. We did not have social media, we did not have 500 friends, and computer games like pong were too boring to play for long stretches.
Society seems so detached now. It is quicker to text than to call. Texting has a place, and I find myself doing it too when a call would be better, more personal, more direct, no misunderstanding. It seemed simpler when I was a kid. I never heard a friend say I’m to stressed, but I hear kids say that all the time. Today people place some sense of self-worth on the number of friends they have or how many likes they get in a post. I hope people read my blog, but trust me I will not lose any sleep of it if you don’t.
Today, we worry when our kid goes to school. We wonder if there will be a shooting. We have become so desensitized to violence and the anonymity with hiding behind a computer screen, there is no consequence to being an asshole. You see this in emails where it is easy to be abrupt with a coworker and problems take longer to solve than if we just picked up the phone. I’m guilty of that myself.
As I look back, it is easy to see where these technology changes impact me, but I have a different perspective. I can see them and make those behavior changes. Today’s generation does not have that perspective, this is their normal. That is scary to me. We have changed to be more inclusive which is good, but when we take it to the point everybody gets an award or everybody makes the team, we are not doing anybody any favors.
When we think we have 500 friends, you have to wonder, do you have any? When you can hide behind a computer and bully somebody so much they want to take their own life, or the lives of dozens, in a school shooting, what have we done. I never thought of getting shot in school. Our biggest issue was a fire drill in February. Living in the northeast, that was a pain in the ass, but not a gun in school.
It seems today, people in general, spend more time on social media than socializing. Family’s sit in a restaurant and everybody is on the cell phone. I’m not saying that does not happen in my home, but it is brief, we talk while we are out to dinner and we always eat as a family at home in the evening. You need that time.
I guess it is just the way we look at it. As I look back and compare it to today, it seems to be more impersonal, less interaction and more detachment. That is not to imply there are no benefits. We are more informed than ever, people are more socially aware, information is faster, and technology has made many aspects of life easier and better.
Maybe it was not better years ago and it was just simpler, simple is good. Having all this technology is good but we need to have some perspective with it. We need to teach personal socializing skills, problem-solving skills and look at this as a tool, not as a way of life but as a way to make our life better.
Maybe what bothers me the most is watching my kids go into a world that presents far more dangers, more complex issues, and more challenges without me always being there to help them. Probably no different than any parent from any generation. The challenges and changes are just bigger and they come at us faster than they did in the past. My wife and I can only control how we prepared our kids we can’t control how everybody else did their job. That will have to do, but I will still look back to a day when everything seemed so much easier.