I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this last week or two, mainly spurred on by being with you and your two children.
Their world, the world you create and try to protect, is nothing like the world of my childhood. They have Lego, but I had Lego. Difference is, I use to build houses and castles from a box of random bits. They build car replicas and Death Stars and detailed football stadiums all of which come with detailed plans. I had building bricks. They have the world in miniature!
Then I read books and there was an hour of TV given over to “children’s time” each weekday. They now have multiple channels, films on download, box sets and it’s 24/7.
When I had homework I would have to go to the library for research, a journey on my bike. They have the internet and don’t even have to get out of bed to access more information than I would have imagined possible. The world has so changed in such a short time and the change continues. Perhaps, in many respects, I feel closer to the ancient Egyptians than to todays generation. But as I said, this has caused me to think 🤔 and the more I do so the more I believe my world was better. Let me hand you back all the advancements your children enjoy.
You see, everything has come at a cost. First, when you next go out to town, keep an eye open for all the cameras that are now in place. Every main street, most shops, people’s homes, any public building, on the road sides. Like, I go to my nearest city and, unless I take a very circuitous route, my registration number is captured. They know I’m here, whoever they are! And as facial recognition improves what hope of privacy do I have. Go to the woods I say! And where is the world heading? I read that in China there is a virtual surveillance state now!
Always eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or bed – no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres in your skull.1984, George Orwell
But many children don’t have to concern themselves with this as they spend a good portion of they lives in a virtual state, locked to a screen. Their friends are on the other end of a web link and they may never have met them. We teach them the world is a potentially bad place and that they are not safe so, stay at home. When I was young I, and my friends, would be out after breakfast, across the fields with fishing rods, footballs, imaginations, and not return until dinner time. We climbed trees (and fell out of them!), went in the river, cycled miles and came home with skinned knees and an assortment of bruises. Our lives were full of experiences shared with real people. My friends were “mates” and we knew each others lives for real.
Now, every unknown person is a potential threat until proven otherwise but in my childhood people were viewed as friendly unless there was good reason to have a different view. We used to do something called “Bob-a-Job” week when we were Boy Scouts. That involved knocking on doors of people we’d never met and, yes, asking if we could do a job for a small donation to the Scout movement. I knock 10’s of doors, found most people to be kind and occasionally met one who was not. But that was a good life lesson and we shrugged it off.
Are people more wicked these days? I doubt it. It’s just that our ever present access to media allows us far more information from the world.
So I’m thinking I have lived through the best time in the history of the world. Sounds like a wild claim but the world I grew in was an exciting place, a place with possibilities and the freedom to seek them out. Yes we have more convenience, more knowledge, more entertainment opportunities but at what price? We don’t skin our knees climbing trees because we teach safety but we lose the character development the experiences bring.
You tell me. Have I seen a better day? What ever your decision I will tell you, I don’t envy your children the world they are growing up in.
The Matrix was a documentary.Keane Reeves
I see freedom in retreat and people accepting entertainment and convenience in its place. I see character diminishing as a development quality to be replaced by a growing sense of entitlement. I see people hiding in the depths of the internet and saying things they would never dare to say to another’s face and not realising how shallow they’ve become.
No I don’t envy your children the world they will grow in but I do know you will do your best for them and that gives comfort.
Yours, finding comfort in memories,