By Vijay Shah
I am a big Facebook addict, and while leisurely scrolling down my News Feed, often find posts from my friends or work colleagues that make me stop and think “hello, that looks interesting!”. It could be a beautiful picture or photo, or a well-thought out comment…or something hilarious. I usually subject my Facebook mates to a barrage of silly and humorous comment posts and statuses on a daily basis. Surprisingly they haven’t yet all unfriended me!.
I saw this little beauty about a day ago, originally published by some funny jokes group I’m a member of, ” If I Got Paid or Every Hour I’ve Spent On Facebook, I’d be RICH” or something along those lines. Actually these groups are a little light and harmless cyber-entertainment, if nothing much else. They post some interesting stuff, although they have a freaking annoying habit of also flooding my news feed with stupid bullcrap, often written in very retarded English. But, anyways, back to our comment pic here.
It had me thinking. How today’s generation of children are THE digital generation. They practically grew up and cut their teeth with technology. They cheerfully evade Facebook’s 13-and-above age limit, are far more IT-literate than their parents ever will be, and love accumulating the latest gadgetry. This is partly because, as always, kids are vulnerable to peer pressure. When I was in primary school, what got you the ultimate school cred was having fashionable trainers (sneakers). God forbid if your mother sent you to school in a pair of cheap Gola kicks bought on discount from Shoefayre. It will be ordained under the Sacred Rules of Playground Fashion that you WILL be the laughing stock of Class 6B. Now we see people talking about who has the latest iPod/iPhone/iWhatever. Same cool rules apply though. It is that pressure to be up-to-point that makes kids badger their parents to buy all these very expensive pieces of kit. Maybe parents these days are just too soft and give in too easily to their progeny’s demands. Or especially if they are younger parents, they’re already comfortable enough with technology that they don’t fear it one bit, and are comfortable shopping around with their children.
But seriously, 10-year-olds with laptops, online social networks, and a litany of products by Apple Inc. I’m not that old and am a confident technology user, but I find that concept not only strange but a little unnerving too. I did not have my first laptop until after I left university. I had to rely on the computer rooms at my campus library. My first phone was this dumpy old Motorola which looked like a house phone, given to me by a family friend. I lugged this brick around thinking I was the coolest at my sixth-form college. This while everyone else was packing Nokias. I was 16-17 at the time. My family did not get their first desktop PC until a couple of years after I ditched said clunky digital paperweight. In any case, it would be unthinkable for my own future children to possess a mobile phone until they are at least 15, and that only to keep them safe.
In my childhood days, technology was a lot simpler, and less affordable.We settled for the simpler things in life. I still remember those Pokemon cards with their cool illustrations and their sheer variety. My younger brother was the official collector in my house, and we would often go down to the local newsagents to pick up a shiny packet of 10 or so cards, which he would avidly swap with school friends to get rid of the duplicates or ‘doubles’ as we called them. Getting a shiny (a Pokemon card with a metallic or holographic foil printed with the character’s details and HP points) was the Holy Grail. These shinies were the coup-de-grace in the numerous card game duets that took place in playgrounds up and down the country. By the late 1990s, this was practically our youngsters’ national sport.When was the last time you heard a 14-year-old tell his mate that he will swap his Charmander for the other’s Hitmonlee ?
From Pogs and Pokemon/Yu-Gi-Oh cards, we moved onto yo-yos with flashing LED lights and Tamagotchis (electronic pets that came with a keyring). Kids today with their top-of-the range MP3 players and that, would probably laugh at what passed for entertainment in my generation, just like we used to laugh at the generations before us, with their spinning tops, conkers and Action Man figures.
Society worries about how children now are no longer socialising and playing outside because they are all cooped up in front of the TV/PC/Mac screen and spend more time chatting on BBM or eBuddy than face-to-face. Now they are allegedly becoming more anti-social and more obese and parents worry about their credit card statements at the end of the month. Then there’s the online risks from bullies and paedophiles etc.
We should all try to be comfortable with the technological revolution I think. At least today’s youth can adapt easily, which will make them more competitive and on-point in our increasingly computer-dependent jobs market. Technology and digitalisation are vitally important to how we play, think, learn, communicate, and express ourselves. But that said, let’s hope though that our grandchildren still find whoopee cushions funny.