Modern technology is changing lives. This dad looked at his young son and realized there will be things he will not experience and will not understand
I am always a little behind when it comes to tying in current events on this site, so it should come as little surprise that I am just now going to bring up Derek Jeter. I spent my youth as a Yankee fan, watching as Phil Rizzuto and Bill White added commentary to the games on WPIX and listening late at night on WCBS AM when the Bombers went out on their west coast road trips.
Don Mattingly was my hero then. He was the hard-working, contact-hitting, gold-glove playing first basemen who was affectionately known as Donny Baseball. He was a great player on a mediocre team, and would have been a shoe-in for the hall of fame if a troublesome back injury hadn’t shortened his career. In 1995, during his last season, the Yankees finally got into the playoffs as a wildcard team. They ultimately lost to Seattle in game 5, but Mattingly played well during the series.
A rookie shortstop traveled with the team to Seattle and got his first post season experience watching Donny and the Yankees fall to the Mariners. He would become a starter the next season and along with Tino Martinez, who replaced Mattingly at first base, Derek Jeter would become the new face of the Yankees and usher in a dynasty that ultimately included winning five World Series over the next 14 seasons.
What’s the point of all of this you ask? With Jeter’s retirement a few weeks ago, a sudden realization came over me that Popeye would never get to see Derek Jeter play baseball. Will he even like baseball? Will there still be players worth rooting for?
One of my favorite television shows is Seinfeld. To this day, if I come across a rerun, I still enjoy it immensely and I think that the humor holds up pretty well. I recently read an article that pointed out that many of the plot lines in Seinfeld revolved around the notion that the characters couldn’t locate each other. In fact, many of the issues faced by Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer would be easily solved by the technology that exists today. Where would the humor come from if Jerry and the gang had smartphones?
It then hit me that kids today will not even understand many of the jokes in a typical Seinfeld episode. There’s a high probability that my son will think that Seinfeld is — stupid.
So these two events got me to thinking about other things the little man won’t get to see or of which he won’t see the point. Here are 7 things today’s kids won’t understand:
- Getting lost: Today’s kids will never be physically lost. I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque. Though I faintly recall a time when maps and atlases were how we successfully traveled long distances, my most lasting memories are the countless times that MapQuest let me down. You’d locate your destination online, print out the step by step directions and be on your merry way. Things would begin well enough, the first few steps went great and your optimism was high, but then you’d get to a step that was either physically impossible or totally incorrect. Eventually, you either gave up completely, had to pull over and find a pay phone or you accidentally found your way to your destination and arrived with a crumpled up printout, high anxiety and newfound anger issues. Today’s kids are equipped with GPS.
- Not having the answers: Today’s kids have answers at their fingertips. That SpongeBob fella looks very familiar, I wonder what else he’s been in? You know that nagging feeling when you kind of recognize someone in a movie but can’t quite place them? Before Google and IMDB, you actually had to rely on your memory to recall where you had seen that actor. If it really bothered you, then you called someone and hoped that they could help you solve the riddle before it drove you to the brink of madness. The same thing happened when a commercial came on and you wanted to know the song. Now, you just click on your phone, hold it up towards the TV and in a few seconds you have the artist, the song name and even a link to buy the song if you feel so inclined. Note: I have yet to feel so inclined.
- Using a phone to make a phone call: Today’s kids will use their phones for everything except phone calls. How do I get Minecraft on this thing? Even for those of us who lived before smartphones it’s hard to recall the time when the only thing a phone did was connect you with someone else via a wire. Do you remember that anxious and exhilarating feeling of not knowing who was calling you? Do you recall memorizing the phone number of someone that you had a crush on? How about when a few long distance phone calls could set you, or your parents (most likely your parents), back hundreds of dollars? Remember the sound of your dial up modem connecting to America Online or not being able to get in touch with someone because of a busy signal? Kids today will not understand any of this.
- Searching for a song: Today’s kids can listen to any song at any time. Are they EVER going to play Oopples and Boo-noo-noos? Sunday mornings meant Casey Kasem and the Top 40 countdown. I would grab a new cassette, play a few seconds to get it passed the leader, set it to record and hit pause. As he counted down the current hits, I would have to decide whether or not to record each song. This was important because a tape with a song you didn’t really like was a real pain in the ass. When a song came on that you really wanted, you hoped that he wouldn’t talk all over the intro so that you would have a clean copy. You also had to keep track of where you were on the cassette because you didn’t want the side to run out in the middle of a song. You also didn’t want too much blank space at the end of a cassette. Holy shitballs were cassettes stressful. When recordable CDs became big in the late 90s a lot of these issues went away, though some new problems cropped up. For instance, I still have a pile full of duds – CDs that I burnt that failed to work for whatever reason. I have no idea why I kept them.
- Rewinding for the next guy: Today’s kids don’t have to be kind and rewind. What do you mean you can’t just automatically skip to the best parts? Remember life before DVRs and instant viewing from Netflix, Amazon and Hulu? Neither will anyone under the age of eight. It really was not that long ago that we had to drive to a video store and have to settle for Speed 2: Cruise Control because every new release was gone. How about setting up the VCR to tape a show and then having the power go out? Or literally wearing out your favorite movie because VHS tapes could physically break after multiple uses.
- Scarcity of pictures of themselves: Today’s kids already have more photos of themselves than their parents. I understood the concept of posing for a photo before I understood the concept of holding my neck up. Maybe I’m a little weird but I love the smell of film and the act of loading up a fresh roll into my trusty 35 millimeter. Photos have lost their mystique since we can take an unlimited number, upload them all over the web and then never look at them again. It used to be that you had to be very selective and had to make sure that you finished the roll so that you could get it developed before you forgot what you had shot. Inevitably, you did take a few photos, put the camera away, shot some more photos and repeated until the roll was completed. Once the photos were developed, going through them was an adventure laced with confusion as you tried to recall what exactly you were looking at.
- Saturday morning cartoons: Today’s kids won’t wake up super early on Saturday mornings just to watch cartoons. Let’s get this straight — There weren’t 10 channels that showed cartoons 24/7 when you were a kid? The internet made a huge deal out of this last week when it was revealed that the main networks would no longer show cartoons on Saturday mornings. Even though it’s really not a big deal since there are tons of cable channels that show cartoons all day, every day – I can see how it would make people nostalgic. Like many people in my generation, I will make sure that Popeye gets to see Looney Tunes, Scooby Doo and other classic toons, but I guess it is still kind of sad that Saturday morning cartoons is no longer a ritual. Waking up early, grabbing your pillow and making your way to the family room to watch The Smurfs and Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears, as close to the television as you could possibly get, was a special part of growing up.
As parents, the thing we have to realize is that our kids aren’t here to relive our childhoods. They will develop their own rituals and form their own nostalgia as they grow up, go to space college and get a space job. Then they will have their own kids and reminisce about all the things that their kids won’t understand. Perhaps they’ll even write about it in their space blog.
Originally published on That Poore Baby
Photo: Lotus Carroll/Flickr