When I was a kid, we played with dirt

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, November 11, 2014, 11:07 PM | comments: 0

We were out for dinner the other day, and we busted out a phone to keep Simon busy with a number-matching game. Ordinarily, we're pretty good about device-appropriate time. We believe that it's shitty to see a family at dinner or at a theme park all heads-down staring at a screen. Talk to each other, dammit! In this case though, on a non-therapy night and after he was getting restless, we relented if only to selfishly allow us to have a conversation.

Our waiter was dropping off some bread, and Simon looked up and told him, "I did it!" He had finished a set of numbers and was pretty proud of himself. The waiter turned as he was leaving and said, "When I was a kid, we played with... dirt."

That was admittedly a little silly, but he reminded me of something that has been on my mind a lot lately. We live in the future, and we completely take it for granted. I always bring up my little spiel about how, "We carry super computers in our pockets connected to all of the knowledge of the world." Seriously, that's not over-stating it. Think about that, and put yourself back in 1994 for a moment. Shit, put yourself in 2006.

Similarly, Diana was reading a book on her Kindle. This tiny, thin little thing holds countless books and sucks more out of the air. It's a goddamn miracle. All I can think about is the heavy, $100 books I had to buy in college, carrying them around. Now you could have a tablet weighing a few ounces (that you can "write" on no less) that holds all of those books, and also let you send email to the professor, order a pizza and watch last night's Tonight Show.

My kid will have no idea about life 20 years ago. When he's a teenager, I'm going to drag his ass on the Carousel of Progress at Magic Kingdom (partly as payback for dragging us on it) so I can beat it into him how slow progress was in the 80 years prior to the last 20.

It's almost infuriating to read about how some 24-year-old hipster was being dramatic about losing his shiny new iPhone at the club. Oh no, you can't take a selfie with a beer in your hand at 3 a.m.? I'd be more impressed if you expressed dismay over your inability to cite analyst predictions on whether or not Tesla can really meet Model III price points given expected battery production and costs in 2017. I'm not saying people can't have fun, but come on... look at what you have!

I don't expect that Simon will play with dirt, and I'm not going to prevent him from playing video games or listening to heavy metal of whatever the equivalent of Baby Boomer fears end up being. Hopefully he'll still ride bikes, catch frogs and do all of that stuff. But I won't let him squander the sheer amazingness that technology enables.


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