I was thinking today, as I sat relaxing, enjoying a coffee in an inner city café & some quiet me time. As I was blankly staring out the window at the world as it passed by I noticed a group of teens hanging out doing nothing. Fairly unremarkable I know but, this got me to thinking, "What would I have been doing at a similar age on a similar day."
Now, I'm in my mid 30's so I'm talking about traveling back in time to the early 90's, not a million years ago. I really would appreciate your feedback and input in regards to this as I'm writing from the point of view of a boy who grew up in the outer suburbs, and I'm comparing my life to my daughter's which is a city upbringing. We're only 10 mins from where I was raised but the differences seem huge. I am also an only child so have no experience of what a similarly aged female sibling got up to in the early 90's.
Let's kick this off...
Me: I'd finish school, go home, raid the fridge, dump my stuff in my room, hang my uniform on the floor, then grab something else to eat as I left home hollering something like "I'm off to [insert friends or other place that wouldn't arouse suspicion here], I'll be back for tea." I'd return when hungry and disappear shortly after feeding time to resume whatever it was we were up to, generally returning around 8 or 9pmish.
Daughter: Comes home from school, raids fridge, dumps stuff in her bedroom, hangs uniform on floor. OK so far much the same, then it's out with her cellphone (pffft, who am I kidding, it was never out of her hand), on to my Mac or out with her laptop, MP3 player on, then the daily ritual of multitasking communications, MSN, Facebook, Bebo, Yahoo, texting etc. etc. The furious clicking of cellphone buttons as a seemingly endless steam of vowelless words go whizzing through the atmosphere is almost enough to drive a reasonably sane person right up the wall.
Me: My friends and I all had jobs over summer but as soon as we were off the clock it was business as usual. If we had a day off we would grab our mountain bikes and ride the 10km to the river where we would spend the day jumping off rock, checking out hot chicks, acting like idiots, swimming and sunning ourselves. This would be followed by a quick trip to the nearest shop for an ice cream and then the return bike ride home arriving home in time for tea. This could happen 2 or 3 times a week over summer. Occasionally we'd catch a bus into the city where we'd usually walk the malls, catch a flick, grab some McDonalds and boys being boys visit the video arcades to pump Afterburner and Golden Axe full of coins.
Daughter: Has no job so bludges off of Mum & Dad and Grandparents. Mopes around the house with MP3 player, cellphone and laptop continuing her advanced degree in multitasking communications. She does occasionally go into the city centre with friends, which usually involves sushi bars, malls (no duh!), a movie and the video arcade, although the video arcades sole purpose seems to be to provide them with sticky photos of her and her friends making stupid faces and trying to be "gangsta". I really struggle with the constant chorus of "I'm bored Dad..." which invariably starts a conversation which goes something like... "Well why don't you go around to [insert friends name here?]". "Meh! Can't be biffed." "Then, why don't you call .... and ask the to come over here?" "Meh! They can't be biffed." At which point I turn in to my parents and start the obligatory "When I was your age..." lecture. ZOMG you really do turn into your parents. *sigh*
Mum does her best to keep the girls amused and out of the house during holidays, visits to museums, free/cheap shows, walks, parks etc.
Why did our parents almost have to beg to get us to stay home and today we have to beg to get our kids to leave?
Another point I find interesting is the comparison between "necessities"...
When I was a teen we needed a bike, a couple of cool t-shirts (generally with rips in them so we could be cool like the dudes in Poison), a pair of Levis, some board shorts, a pair of Reebok, Nike, Puma or Converse basketball shoes and any 1 of the 3 available deodorants.
Today. MP3 player, cellphone (with MP3 player, video, facebook, and huge text plan), 3000 t-shirts, 47 varieties of deodorant, which incidentally must be applied like the TV ads show, a 15 second continuous spray which causes respiratory failure for everyone in the house including the cat and turtles and tears the ozone layer to pieces. So much for the environmentally aware generation! There must also be a computer of some description (preferably laptop) with high speed interwebs, an iTunes account complete with allowance a second cellphone so she can take advantage of another carriers awesome text deal when the first allocation runs out. Dad must be an ATM, and life will simply end if she can't send approximately 1.6 million text messages before the end of the month.
We had no internet, no cell phones, no MP3 players (we had tape walkmans), almost nobody had a computer and if they did they were Commodore 64's or Amiga 500's, oooh the nostalgia starts to flow. We had bikes & balls (stop it! I'm referring to tennis and rugby and the like, why do you have to make everything dodgy?!) and we had immense amounts of fun. If we were unable to visit someone, we'd use the phone. It had a cord and just reached into my bedroom, we'd lay for hours on our beds and talk at length about nothing, while listening to Poison and Aerosmith. Granted the quality of conversation probably hasn't improved but at least we actually verbally spoke to each other.
One last thing before I sign off...
With all of these communication technologies at their fingertips, it seems the ancient practice of actual physical, face to face communication and interaction is dying. I am truly curious to find out if this virtual world they surround themselves in will lead to a future generation of social retards. I can picture social gatherings and events where everyone sits in a room with music playing while the guests all IM and text each other via their iPads and phones.
Please let me know know what you think, and put me straight if I'm wrong.
Stop and Think