My name is Aliza and I’m a gadget addict.
Yep. I don’t deny it. I’m one of those people who can’t keep her hands off her smartphone when she’s sitting across from you at the coffee shop. You know the type. The one who knows the nicknames of more people on the Hearts Multiplayer App than of relatives. Who keeps her iPad on the night table so she can check Facebook before her feet hit the floor in the morning.
The only thing I have to say for myself is that I’m aware of and fighting my addiction. Some days more successfully than others.
I’ve weaned myself off reading and sending Whatsapp while driving. Yay! Once upon a time, in primitive times, people might have been considered insane if they consciously took their eyes off the road for “only” a minute or two while driving at 60 mph but now you probably appreciate that achievement.
I can refrain from taking my phone out of my purse and off silent after the movie, when I’m having dinner with friends…without needing a Xanax. I’ve even been known to LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT MY SMARTPHONE! (but that may be as a result of encroaching forgetfulness)
I believe that having a few real flesh and blood friends is healthier than having hundreds of Facebook friends. I realize that I’m fortunate to have a living, breathing human being sharing my house who cares about me and actually enjoys talking to me. I know how dangerous it can be to be totally unaware of my surroundings as I cross busy streets or walk down partially deserted streets after dark.
And yet…sometimes I wonder.
As someone once said (when he was a young person), the times they are a’changin’.
Our kids’ and certainly our grandkids’ world is full of electronics from Day One. Eighteen-month-olds have that swiping motion down pat to change screens (maybe year olds). Several of our toddler grandchildren call me on their own. No parent required. They identify my photo sitting right there alongside my phone number, swipe to send and happily chatter away to me in gibberish. Instead of being engrossed in a book, our older grandchildren spend hours (or as much time as parents allow) watching clips and entire shows on their phones.
Maybe it’s an old person thing – thinking that books are intrinsically better than electronic entertainment. Maybe it’s very 1990s to believe that in-person conversation is more valuable than texting. Hey, it’s true that the less one engages in face-to-face conversation, the less she needs all that pesky vocabulary to be gained by reading books.
Soon there’ll be driver-less cars so we can text to our hearts’ content while traveling. We can learn to use walking sticks like the vision-impaired so that we can keep our eyes on our screens while getting around outside. And, anyway, maybe soon there’ll be no need to even go outside.
(a) Kindle versus (b) print books? (a) Amazon versus (b) Barnes & Noble? (a) Webinar versus (b) professional conference? If you answered (b), (b) and (b) maybe you’re a
So, here’s the thing. I think my outrageous addiction to electronics helps me feel comfortable saying (out loud) that I mourn the simpler days of walking barefoot with my friends during the long Texas summer evenings, feeling the warm, soft asphalt under our feet, looking at the lightning bugs and listening to crickets; that I’m ridiculously ecstatic to have grandchildren who love to read; that I’m fighting to reduce my screen time and my gadget budget.
I can’t help but believe that my generation is exceedingly lucky to have not had the temptation to live a solitary, sedentary existence, inside our homes, iPad or iPhone in hand. But, at the same time, I know that it’s an old person’s belief. And that’s as it should be. We had our chance to change the world for the better (and I think we haven’t done a terrible job so far compared to our parents’ world).
So here’s my prayer: May our children and grandchildren make a better world with these crazy electronic tools in their hands, because it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere in the near future.