My mother tells me all the time that she didn’t have a cell phone until she was twenty-one. She’s sitting next to me as I write this, saying “I didn’t! I had a pager when I sixteen and the only people who knew the number where my parents.” She drifted off for a moment, reminiscing in the past. Then she starts laughing, “Most of the time I was getting a 911, which meant to get my ass back to the house because I was in trouble.” She still has her first phone; a big, bulky gray thing that doesn’t resemble much of anything I’ve ever seen.
I had my first cell phone when I was 7. It was an LG touchscreen, shiny gray in color and it flipped open into a keyboard. I have had a computer, then a laptop, a tablet, smartphones, etc. Technology is such a key part of the world today. Everything revolves around it, unless you’re Amish. A month or so ago, I was text messaging my grandpa, and he sent me the sunglass wearing smiley face emoji.
I said, “oh my gosh Papa!”
“Yes, I use immogees.”
“You can teach an old dog new tricks you know.” Followed by two dog emojis and another sunglass smiley face.
I couldn’t stop laughing, and that conversation stuck with me. I remember when he got the phone that he has now, a newer Samsung Galaxy. He called me and said he didn’t have a clue how to work the thing, but a younger guy he works with is helping him out. He’s in real estate and uses newer technology a lot, but “some things just take longer to figure out when you have lived so long without it.”
I’ve had a lot of conversations with my grandpa about the way things were different when he was growing up, as opposed to my generation, the “Millennials.” Everything from the way the kids were called in for dinner to how football has so many rules and regulations that it doesn’t even resemble football back in his day.
My great grandmother, his mother, tells me about when she was my age. Girls had to wear dresses to school, and then walk there. No bus was coming to pick those students up. School itself was so much different. I tell her about the classes I’m taking, both when I was in high school and now that I’m in college. She says that it blows her mind the things they teach children these days. I talk to her frequently about how hard it is to find a job in this area and she tells me every time that when she was about my age, the war was starting and all the women were trying to work and take care of the home. Grandma says it saddens her the way the economy is these days. How two people can have decent jobs and work full time and still not be able to make ends meet sometimes.
Grandma Boarts tells me that the country has lost the things that made it great, that social media is too high on people’s priorities and living the life God blessed you with is too low. I’m always reminded to not let life stress me out too much because it’s the only one I have, and it wasn’t given to me for me to waste it stressed out and upset. That’s how I’ve been living it too. It’s hard to find employment that will pay you enough to life off of. Rent, utilities, car insurance, medical insurance, phone, and internet, etc. This is so expensive, and food isn’t even factored in yet. There’s so much to stress about on a daily basis that wasn’t even a thought in her young adulthood. There was no phone or internet bill. People owned their homes and not everyone had vehicles. Nearly everyone in the United States owns a television, vehicle, cell phone, and other electronics.
The price of a round-trip airplane ticket can be as low as $100. A person can be spontaneous, granted they have the financial resources, and say, “Hey, let’s go to Hawaii.” Off they go, on an airplane, headed for a beautiful place that, previously, was almost completely inaccessible. This is amazing. The doors open to travel and explore in a way that won’t take a person weeks of sailing across an ocean.
My brother is six-years-old. Just last night, my sister and I were making smoothies. We had barely seen my other sister, who is ten, and my brother, all day. I went in and asked them to turn their Wi-Fi on their tablets off and come hang out with us. My brother, Ryker, screamed bloody murder. He refused to get off and my youngest sister had an attitude the entire time. I was crushed. They would rather be on electronics, watching YouTube or Netflix, than hang out with their family. When I was six, or even ten, I was outside on the trampoline or going on bike rides with my grandparents. I was playing on the swing set at the park or going to the pool for birthday parties.
Technology can be used in so many positive ways. Text alerts and Facebook kept me in the loop about Hurricane Matthew; where it was, how fast it was going, when it was expected to hit us and how badly. It allowed others in the community to stay in contact and offer support for those who had more damage. Scientific breakthroughs have been many and progress has been made in a lot of ways, but with all that aside, it’s breaking families apart. Constant gaming and social media, it’s taking people’s attention off the world and their loved ones. Technology is good, but in moderation.
The progression of technology in my lifetime alone has been tremendous. February 14th, 2005, marks the invention of YouTube. Skype, 2003. Facebook, 2004. In 2005, GPS because available to all civilians with full satellite coverage. Bluetooth. The first artificial heart that powers itself. The first iPhone, iPad, and so much more. However, it is also very sad that these things are being put on a list titled, “Most Important Invention of the 21st Century.” Tinder is on that list.
The difference in the types and usage of technology that I’ve seen in my lifetime alone, not counting the stories by grandparents have told me, is huge. There are also other things that have happened in my lifetime that have never happened before.
On January 20th, 2009, my entire elementary school watched the first ever African American President’s Inauguration ceremony and received copies of the New York Times and Washington Post newspapers from that day. I was in sixth grade and we watched it in Mrs. Grafton’s classroom. I remember that day clearly, because our parents and teachers told us that history was being made before our eyes.
In 1997, Madeline Albright became the first female Secretary of State. Just six years ago, on March 7th, 2010, the Oscar award for Best Director went to a female for the first time, Ms. Kathryn Bigelow. At this very moment, we have Mrs. Hillary Clinton running for president. While it may not be the first time a female has ever run for office, the potential for seeing history made is high.
The world is changing and we are making progress in many areas, yet I believe that we are also losing progress. Americans used to enjoy life more. Parents playing with their kids outside, going to fairs and carnivals. It seems so much different to me. Parents consumed in work, kids on electronics or getting into drugs and violence. The world might have always been like this and I’m just now realizing it as I grow up, but the world around me does not feel the way it feels when my grandparents talk about their childhood. They were so happy and adventurous. I don’t want to bring a child into a world where their memories are going to be looking at an eight or eleven-inch screen playing games or watching YouTube videos. I don’t want to bring a child into a world where their memories are going to be of their parents never being around because they’re always working or sucked into social media. I want to be to my children the kind of parent that my grandparents were to me.
History.com Staff. Famous Firsts in Women’s History. 2010. 11 October 2016. <http://www.history.com/topics/womens-history/famous-firsts-in-womens-history>.
Most Important Inventions of the 21st Century. 19 June 2016. 11 October 2016. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/03/09/most-important-inventions-of-the-21st-century-in-pictures/tinder/>.
The Top 10 Life Improving Inventions of the 2000s. Ed. Will McLennan. 2013 November 23. 11 October 2016. <http://www.therichest.com/business/technology/the-top-10-life-improving-inventions-of-the-2000s/>.
Written for my Creative Writing class 10/11/16