FLASHBACK 40 years or so:
When I was a child, childhood was simple. You went to school acted accordingly learned your lessons and then when you came home you played outside with friends until the street lights came on. Then the whole family sat down to dinner together and talked about their day. After dinner there might be an hour of television watching together as a family and then began the ritual of getting ready for bed. Does anyone else remember those days? Hmmm, I must be getting old, because I still remember them clearly.
We didn’t walk around with cell phones when we were kids. If someone wanted to call us they did so, if we were home we answered the call if not that person called back later. Our parents knew the addresses and phone numbers of each of our friends, and if we missed curfew they would begin at the top of the list and call everyone on it it until they found us, and boy were we in trouble when they did!
We didn’t have video games that we parked ourselves in front of from morning till night. Our friends were real flesh and blood kids who lived in our area. We saw those friends on a daily basis, and knew what was going on in their lives because they told us first hand.
The playgrounds were full of happy screaming children running around playing imaginary games of pirate, and cops and robbers. We didn’t need electronic devices to feed us imaginary scenarios we had imaginations of our own. A jungle gym became a pirate ship or a castle, a swing could be an airplane or a parachute. We made use of the everyday things around us to enhance our imaginative play.
FLASH ON PRESENT DAY:
Those playgrounds are empty now. No longer do we see children in the streets playing impromptu games of ball hockey and yelling “car” every time a vehicle approaches. The streets are empty after school as each child rushes home to sit in front of a screen and play electronic games with complete strangers a world away. Electronic screens have taken over our lives.
“But that’s progress!” I hear the younger generation scream at me from behind their cell phones, and xbox controllers. Is it really? In some ways perhaps it is, but not so in others.
I say this because online I have hundreds of “friends”. People I have never met, and am unlikely to meet in this lifetime. I treasure those friendships of course, I have met some amazing people online, but they are basically pen pals that have no effect on my life realistically. In reality there are maybe ten people in my life that are truly a part of my life, and half of them are family.
Don’t get me wrong I enjoy those online friendships and some of those people have given me solid advice, and shown genuine compassion, but they are merely fingers on a keyboard a world away. They won’t be showing up for any birthday parties or spending the Christmas holidays with me any time soon. We won’t be taking in any movie premieres together or getting together to have dinner once a week, and therein lies the problem with the modern friendship.
The human race used to seek out human companionship. We would make an effort to make friends with like minded people. We formed bonds that stood the test of time, and space, we gathered people to us and cared about the relationships that followed. Now ending a friendship is as simple as “unfriending” someone on facebook, you don’t even have to tell them why you no longer wish to be friends. Pushing that button that ends a friendship is today’s equivalent of saying “I don’t want to play with you anymore, I’m taking my toys and going home!” And we do it all without ever having face to face contact with any of these people.
These days even when people do get together physically they aren’t really there. What do I mean by that? Well, for example a few weeks ago I attended a small business meeting here in my hometown. You know, the kind of event where small business owners get together and discuss ways to promote each others businesses. I noticed when we sat down for the rubber chicken portion of the get together that just about everyone had a cell phone in front of them. I also noticed that everyone was so absorbed in the messages they were receiving that no discussion was taking place around the table. Here we were all meeting in the same place in the same room and not one of us had anything to say to the flesh and blood people surrounding us because we were too absorbed in what our twitter feeds were telling us, or we just had to look at the latest funny cat picture posted to our timeline. It was about that time that I decided the next time I attend a physical meeting everyone should have to give up their cell phones at the door. Either that or we should all just exchange cell numbers and hold our meetings by text message.
So what am I really saying here? Simply this, if personal relationships are a thing of the past and the only interaction I am going to have with my fellow man is electronic then please, stop the world I wanna get off! I am human and I want face to face relationships with my friends.