Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about this vast digital world we now live in. How everything is so fast and instead of having face-to-face interactions and building relationships, we are often turning to our phones, tablets, phones and computers way too much in my opinion.
On our recent trip to California, I brought back for Anna my set of Little House On The Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The stories are based on her own childhood memories growing up in an American pioneering family in the mid 1800s and into the 1900s. As I started reading about their log cabin where Pa had gone hunting for a deer and later was hanging the meat out to dry and Ma was preparing vegetables from their garden to store for the winter, Anna was shocked to learn that there was no such thing as a grocery store back then, let alone refrigerators. Laura’s family literally lived off of the land and sometimes went hungry if Pa couldn’t hunt an animal. This led us to a very interesting discussion about there also being no mobile phones, computers and not even a proper post office nearby if you were one of the first settlers going west in America! She said, “Well, then how would you get in touch with people far away?” Her jaw dropped when I said, “They would only be able to write letters and then take it to an established town with a post office. It could take weeks, maybe months to finally reach the recipient.” Kids today, even my kids, take for granted so many modern inventions and technology, that there is little appreciation for life before everything as we know it now.
Miranda Lambert’s country song, Automatic puts it so well as she journeys to a reminiscent time before everything went automatic:
Hey whatever happened to,
Waitin’ your turn
Doing it all by hand,
‘Cause when everything is handed to you
It’s only all worth
As much as the time you put in
It all just seems so good the way we had it
Back before everything became, automatic
As much as I don’t always love technology, I certainly appreciate it with my transatlantic life and I utilise it to keep in touch with family in America. Charlie and I are thankful that the kids can use FaceTime with their Annie and Papa and we can share videos through WhatsApp. It does have its benefits but we do need to be very careful and cautious that we don’t lose some of the depth and richness of a slower-paced life from previous generations.
In a Business Insider 2017 article shared on the Independent by Marlene Stollen and Gisela Wolf, they discuss the term Xennials as a way to describe people born between Generation X and the Millenials. One of the characteristics of this micro generation is that they have had an analog childhood and a digital adulthood. I love that I fall into this little group that remembers a more simplistic time. If you wanted to do research for school, you didn’t just type it into Google, but instead you would visit your local library. I still remember the smell of old musty books and the quiet, calming sound of pages being turned. If we were meeting family friends, we would agree on a time / location and we couldn’t just ring on the mobile if one group was running late. Without smartphones and Facebook, people weren’t able to instantly compare themselves with everyone else, and because of this, there were certainly less self esteem issues.
Just the other day, I was washing the outside windows and Luke was keen to help me. Sure I could have called a window cleaner and saved some time, but that wasn’t the point. My boy wanted to learn a skill and I was happy to share with him how to work and appreciate taking care of our house. Charlie and I want to raise our kids to be hands-on. Learning how to have a Do-It-Yourself attitude. And as much as it can be difficult to ‘let kids help,’ things like watching Daddy hang a picture frame up or caulk fresh sealant around the kitchen sink and still taking the time to wash the car by hand sometimes, are ways for us to connect our kids to our own childhoods and watching our parents do projects around the house.
So as one of the last dinosaurs to remember that life didn’t always run by mobile phones, and digital technology, I feel it’s my duty to pass onto my kids an appreciation for all that they have now. I want them to recognise life and values beyond what they can see on television or find on YouTube. Instead, let’s put the mobile phones on silent and consider only using them when we really have to. Explore the world, make lots of artwork, get muddy in the garden, get excited by crunchy autumn leaves, and maybe even get bored to trigger our creativity and imagination!