It never ceases to amaze me how much technology has advanced during the course of my lifetime of 32 years. I’m part of the generation that had to tune their TV to channel 3 to play video games, who had to use the phone in the front office at school to call my parents, and who still had to go to Blockbuster to rent VHS tapes.
Being the father of a 2-year-old girl, I am starting to realize that her first world pains will differ quite a bit from mine. While I was frustrated with the internet because my signal was disconnected because someone picked up the phone, her frustration will be that data is not reaching her fast enough on her handheld device which is faster than any computer I owned in college.
I became more aware of the gap as a friend told me a story about his 6-year-old daughter, and an encounter that she had with her grandfather, who I would assume is probably in his 60s. Here’s how the conversation went down:
Grandfather: Sweetheart, I can’t find the remote, could you please turn the volume up on the TV?
G: You know, turn the volume up, so I can hear it.
D: Don’t you have the remote?
G: No, that’s why I need you to turn it up.
D: How am I supposed to turn it up if I don’t have the remote?
G: Sweetheart, use the buttons on the TV.
D: You mean there are buttons on the TV?
Funny story, but it was also an eye-opening situation for me. While technology has allowed us to complete tasks faster and with less effort, in some sort of way it has crippled our way of critical thinking and problem solving. Calculators do entire complex mathematical equations for us; there are websites which allow us to translate sentences and phrases into a different language without ever having to learn the language itself; and now there are cars which will automatically parallel park themselves for you at the touch of a button.
Maybe I’m old school (if I can say that at 32). Maybe I’m sad that my daughter will never experience the joys of talking on a phone that had a chord attached. Maybe I’m sad that she’ll never experience the thrill of waiting in line to buy a concert ticket to see her favorite band. Maybe I’m sad that she’ll never experience the excitement of rushing home to catch the beginning of her favorite TV show instead of watching it on DVR. Or maybe I’m just getting old.