Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Engaging, Messaging, Or just Aging?

Hello everyone.

Anyone remember in my first post when I talked about the pros?  A lot of them say to blog daily.  Or at least weekly.  And to them I say, the definition of a 'pro' is someone who is paid (usually well) to do whatever it is they are professing to be a pro at.  So, if you and my other 36 readers want to pay me to stay home from work and write profound thoughts for them, I will be happy to oblige, and I promise that, in return, I will give you wonderful, "value based' (whatever that means) food for thought each day.  If not, you will simply have to wait until my life slows down to the point where I have enough quiet to have a thought that I consider to be worth sharing.

I just clicked over 3 decades, and I've been alive long enough now to see a generation 10 years younger and totally different from mine hit the work force.  10 years difference is a big enough gap to have seen the differences growing up.  These kids watched Barney, then Nickelodeon, then the OC, the Hills, Glee...  They watched Disney movies that didn't portray good vs. evil.  They watched kids shows that found missing shoes, instead of preventing antagonists from stealing all the caring from people's hearts ---

Hey - as an aside - Dude, was child psychology SO far behind when TV writers were writing shows for my childhood? That's effed up!  I can't even SHOW my son the scary crap they called kids programming when I was young. I mean, I think back, and we used to make believe we were orphans.  ORPHANS!

--- Back to the point: these 20 year olds grew up with different parents, in a different time than me.  And now I see that their group has different inclinations and beliefs as they hit the labour force.  And then it gets me thinking - what is my son's generation going to be like?

Why is this running through my head?  Here's why:

I gave up Twitter for the last 2/3 of lent, and now that I'm back, I'm once again finding myself less engaged with my 4 year old for the short time between when I get home and when he goes to bed.  So my question is this:
How is my generation of quasi-engaged parents going to rub off on these kids?  We hold the screens in our hands now, so we can always be a little bit on the computer.  But that also means we're a little bit ignoring our kids.  What's that going to look like when we continue it over 20 years?

Will our kids all be serial killers?  No. I'm not fear or guilt mongering - that's not the point.  And maybe it's impossible to guess how it will shape their experience.  And maybe each individual will experience it differently.  But for better or worse, these kids are growing up in a world where, more than ever, there's more than one thing to be paying attention to at any given time, and that's bound to have consequences - some of which will be easier to anticipate than others.

Know what?  I'm a softy.  My son is at an age where he stops playing to say, "I love you, daddy!" So forgive me for being old school, and wanting to drop my phone in the toilet bowl when I realize it's distracting me from one of the most beautiful times in my relationship with him, and really, in my life in general.

Whether it's family time, meetings, sales calls, spending time with friends or anywhere, I think there should be a policy we all agree on: the human you occupy space with in reality trumps the human you are digitally communicating with.  We need to ENGAGE with each other.  Humans are wired for the warmth of real interaction.  Seriously.  Everyone needs a friend they can hug.  And you can't do that on skype.

So, when you're at the restaurant with your friends, put all your phones in the middle, and the first one to pick theirs up ALSO has to pick up the bill. There will never be a substitute for human contact. And we need to do our kids, and those around us a favour, and remember that they're ACTUALLY THERE!

Do you have a screen story?  What do you suspect will be the consequence of this trend?  I'd love to hear your comments or feedback below.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post. Thanks for sharing. I feel the same way. It's especially hard for entrepreneurs who depend on social media to grow their businesses... so to our children (who see us work from home or on the go), it looks like we're always on the computer or phone. It's also hard to pull away at 5pm like most folks... I'm definitely struggling with this issue. I hope my son revolts, and heads in the opposite direction. Maybe he'll just chop wood for a living? I could only hope he learns how to survive in the real world, and not only online. Thanks again for speaking your mind on this matter.