Maybe I should be Amish. For today’s world, Mike and I are like cavemen. We don’t have a flat screen or high definition TV. We don’t have laptops or iPads or smartphones (Mike has had a Blackberry for work but being a caveman, I’m not sure if that officially qualifies as “smart” or not) and therefore have never needed/had WiFi. Yes, we do have running water and electricity, but otherwise, we should just trade in our sedan for a cart and buggy. This week we not only got WiFi in the house, but today we also each purchased an iPhone 4s. It’s the end of the world as we know it…and I do feel fine. For now.
I’m old-fashioned. When I took Connor and a friend to a play cafe, I thought it would be great to bring along the Tribune to read. As I pulled out the 3 pounds of newsprint and wished I had the wingspan of a 747 to facilitate reading the 24 x 48 awkward black-and-white rectangle, I suddenly became conscious of the fact that no one else would do such a thing. If anything, most would look on their mobile device or tablet. I may be the last person on Earth still subscribing to the actual newspaper, but for some reason, I prefer flipping through the pages over clicking through them online.
A few days ago, I was reading “Curious George Visits the Library” to the boys. True to his curious ways, George found himself on a wheeled cart of books that sent him flying into the encyclopedias. At this point, Ethan interrupts my reading and asks, “What are encyclopedias?” Me: “Well, you know how when you want to know more information about something, you ‘google’ it on the computer? (Nod.) Back when Mommy was little (and dinosaurs roamed the Earth), we had to look things up in books of information called encyclopedias.” It made me miss looking things up in books, going to the card catalog for research papers, and walking to school uphill in the snow both ways.
Technology has and will continue to improve our lives in many ways. With each new generation, things become even more convenient, accessible, quick, and gadget-ized. Even though they have cavemen parents, my boys were already very familiar with Angry Birds and how to look through photos on touch screens just from being born in this day and age. At 5 and 3 years of age, they are already ripe to assume the role of tech expert for the ancient parents who only recently decided to join the 21st century.
I don’t want to be out-of-touch. I don’t want to refuse the car that will take me to my in-laws in 2 1/2 hours because I insist on riding a horse that will take me 2 days. At the same time, I don’t want to get so lost in the modern conveniences that I lose the value of those things that withstand time. Facebook has made it incredibly wonderful to stay in touch with so many dear friends, to keep up with their lives, to be connected to many with the ease of a status update. However, for me, it can never beat the face-to-face quality time of being together, or the connection that comes in conversations over the phone. I now have a smartphone, and I’m sure I will enjoy it fully. But please stop me if you see me looking down at it instead of watching my children play in the park or taking advantage of the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation. I don’t want our family to have heads always looking down, but rather looking out, at one another, at the world around us, even if that means looking back into the dark cave. I do plan on taking advantage of modernity as long as I can manage to keep it from mastering me. My kids will not be totally out of touch. To a certain extent, I will try to save them that embarrassment. But they will have limits. They will hate me for it, but I hope in the long run, they will find themselves thanking me for it just like I thank my mom for setting those kinds of limits with me. Now excuse me while I go play with my iPhone.