We’re here. We’re all in it together. And we’ve all asked the same question.
Is technology helping us or hurting us as humans?
It’d be great if there was a definite answer, but the truth is we don’t know yet. I think the real answer will be more evident when this next generation comes of age, but I’m here to offer up my best take on it for the rest of us looking on what to do in the meantime.
I’ll be the “old man” in the room and tell you what you probably already know. It starts with one simple word, balance. But there’s so many shades of gray now it really takes sitting down and analyzing what’s right for YOU.
The age of the “outdoor explorer” is over. Our generation was the last group of kids to ever grow up without the hue of a screen seducing every oozing ounce of attention. Mourn if you must, but resisting it now would be comparable to a three year old’s temper tantrum over the wrong colored shirt. And I know all too well what those look like nowadays. So I think the choice is to embrace it and figure out how we can still expand our kids passion and imagination in a world where they’re now asked to just participate, not create.
If you’re reading this, odds are that like me, you grew up in the last era where you could go play outside and be home when the street lights came on. And as kids we were free to explore (with some boundaries) our outside world using nothing but our imaginations and maybe a bike or two. And we hated seeing those giant bulbs light up against the fading sun. It meant our day was over. Sure it saddens me a bit my son won’t grow up that way. We just live in a less safe world than in those times now. But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.
The great advantage that our generation has yet to understand, is that we are the gatekeepers of this tool we call technology. We did not grow up IN technology, but rather we grew INTO it. We were luckily given this incredible bridge to walk on into our current day use of it. We saw the Internet in its infancy and watched it grow from calf to full grown elephant. And with it, we grew as well. There’s a great opportunity in having done that. And it also means our roles as teachers has perhaps never been more important.
We are the yin and the yang and never knew it. Our unique upbringing has shown us how balance, like in most things, is important. But it’s more important now than its ever been. So it is vitally important we find that for ourselves first, so we can bestow that upon those we touch in our everyday lives.
Today I implore you to be a seeker, and be a teacher. Perhaps not in the traditional sense. But maybe in the way the Wright Brothers did it, trial and error. How much time on our phones is too much? How much social media is the appropriate amount? Is there a disconnect when we now “disconnect” from our phones and computers? Why do we feel a small panic button light up if we think we’ve lost our phone? No simple answers it seems.
You can say I’m taking the “easy way out” here and avoiding the question I originally proposed. And maybe you’re right. But that’s because I think the answer lies in an open discussion with each other. Because right now no one really knows what these screens are doing to us. There just isn’t enough long term studies on it yet to truly know (in this writer’s opinion).
So we have to be carefully cunning in how we proceed. And even more so in how we choose to teach. Make no mistake, you are a teacher now whether you want to be or not. On that bus ride to work are you watching the pulse of the city or watching highlights of last nights game? When you wait in the doctors office to be seen are you wondering what questions to ask your doctor or searching WebMD to tell him what you have? I can promise in both cases, someone is watching what you do, for now at least.
The truth is what we’ve always known it to be. It’s a juggling act. And the sooner we learn to be the best damn jugglers around, the better off we’ll all be. Easier said than done I’m sure, but the good news is you get to try every day. 🤓
"Ideoteque" by Radiohead