Technology makes our lives better. Right? Maybe. I struggle to keep up with it, and usually end up requesting help from co-workers or younger family members. Speaking of younger people, I have noticed a disturbing trend. Many of our youth are so immersed in technology that they fail to interact with each other on a personal level.
My step-son had a couple friends over yesterday afternoon. They were being very quiet, which would have meant big trouble in their younger years. I walked into the living room to find all three of them sprawled across the furniture with their cell phones in front of their faces. They weren’t talking to each other. They weren’t even looking at each other. They were spending time together, but not really.
I have experienced this same phenomenon when dining with my family in restaurants. I’m often the only one not on my phone while we await our food. Even my husband looks at the screen more than he looks at me. I have to tell them to put their phones down if I want to engage in an actual conversation.
Modern technology saves me a ton of time and makes my life easier for the most part. My washing machine automatically uses the exact amount of water necessary to wash my clothes without me selecting a load size. My car has navigation that keeps me from getting lost. If I miss a turn or a road is closed, it recalculates to put me on an alternate route to my destination. My phone automatically changes time when I cross into a different zone, which is extremely handy. I can and have downloaded books at 3:00 a.m. from the comfort of my own home. Sometimes I just can’t wait until normal business hours to start the next book in a series.
While our lives are being enriched by all of these amazing gadgets, I wonder if we are doing a disservice to our younger generation. I’ve noticed that many cashiers have trouble making change if I find my coins after they open the drawer. I had to give one young man a lesson in map reading not long ago. There was no cell service, so his navigation wouldn’t work. I gave another youngster lessons on using a paper dictionary. He didn’t know about guide words.
I’m concerned that millions of people are going to be lost if our grid suddenly goes down for any length of time. Skills that I was taught as a child as part of survival seem to be a lost art for many. I know how to use a compass, purify water, catch and cook my food, and use my instincts. How many of today’s youth can even build a fire? I know those who were in the scouts or military would be fine, but I know others who wouldn’t know to look for dead wood or to avoid the poison oak.
I love most technology. I’m online more than I’m offline. I just feel that we should teach our kids to do without it once in a while.