When my 8 year old asked me when she could get a cell phone and I was about to say “two weeks from your sixteenth birthday”, I stared at her. The eagerness in her big blue eyes to be in touch with all the other eight year olds and their social agendas was cute and pathetic. She’s convinced she NEEDS it. And my 10 year old has made me feel its just pure neglect that she doesn’t possess an iPhone, only a measly iTouch that she “doesn’t even like”. I’m such a mean mommy. I’m fairly certain it qualifies as child abuse in the state of California. “But EVERYONE else has one!” “But punkin’, they are going to be socially stunted as adults.” “Whaaaaaaa?” I wanted to tell her to Google it, but I stopped myself.
Remember when a keyboard was only on a piano and a virus was the flu? Only spiders lived in a web? Yes, it is hard to comprehend our lives before we had cell phones and the Internet. Our Universe shrunk down to the size of a pea and answers to everything were two clicks away. Our friends could be phoned almost anywhere (for 40 cents per minute) at any time and it was AWESOME! The new technology was exhilarating! I remember my dad carrying around a cell phone the size of a briefcase, He loaded it in his car to with the same finesse that we load a carryon on a plane, except his bag phone was probably bigger. People would stop and stare.
Our lives before this social media onslaught seem to be pre Civil War (ie Gold Rush or insert event from the 1800s). We thumbed through the Encyclopedia Britannica and marveled over its slick glossy pages and colorful photos. The library was our only source for term papers. We utilized mountains of books. For hours. I had a row of dictionaries in my room in high school that graduated in line due to their thickness. My big blue one I ultimately filled with my friends’ high school photos and two ‘mums’ from a couple of promsJ (I found it a few years ago when cleaning out a bunch of old boxes. It was bent from the memories and a big ol’ rubber band held it all in place.). We had a rotary phone mounted to the wall in the kitchen.
Recently, when I had my third iPhone replaced (sigh), there were a mere couple of hours that I wasn’t ‘connected’ with the world. You heard right. Hours. Diagnostics were done. The Apple Doctors were baffled. Replace the organ! (I mean phone). Transfer everything AGAIN?! I admit, I panicked. My umbilical cord was severed. Waiting a nanosecond for a text response has on occasion put me near Stress Con 5. I looked at The Genius Bar in Apple and imagined that it served martinis. Apple martinis! A mirage.
Remember when we used to pass notes in class and it worked! My girlfriend got asked to the prom via a neatly folded note in the middle of Advanced Biology during a lecture on porifera reproduction (you may need to Google that). It was the preferred, well only, method of immediately sending and receiving information on fashion, dates, weekend plans, MTV, feathered bangs, and football games, and “like, how boring this stupid class is and like will this teacher ever like shut up!” But you had to make sure that you had allies beside you, otherwise the covert operation would be thwarted (ie. the future hackers). There was always somebody in the group waiting to grab your notes. And if you got busted or it got in the wrong hands, the best-case scenario was the note got ripped up and valuable information ‘deleted’. The worst was the teacher read it to the whole class and your crush was revealed and his girlfriend happened to be sitting beside you. And there’s still 45 minutes left.
Google has done for our brains what karaoke has done for our voices. We are all fucking geniuses holding mini PhDs in everything and we are all one beer away from being ‘discovered’. If it all boosts our self-esteem in this sea of crazy uncertainty that we all live in, then why not? Google away! As far as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and all the others go? Stick needles in my eyes. Facebook has exhausted me but I caved in. Though, the conversations, the photos, the comments, thumbs up and thumbs down, it’s a lot to keep up and raise kids too. I have to put my virtual foot down and say “No more social media!” (at least for another week or so…….)
So, when I hear, “Mommy, you don’t understand!” I actually really truly do. But the answer is still “No.”