A picture of me with my grandparents, siblings, and some cousins before going sledding
I'm on a Boeing 757. Out of my window I can see the wingtips, which are bent at the ends to improve fuel efficiency. The web address of the airline is printed on the tips, which should seem totally normal, but still reminds me of back before companies took the internet seriously. I notice this every time. Every poster that has a web address, every commercial, and every billboard.
It's a habit. When I was younger, if businesses even had web sites, they only had it as a precaution-- just in case that internet thing started to take off. I took pride when I first began seeing TV commercials with web addresses in them. I was part of the internet generation, and each URL I saw felt like a small personal victory, as if it justified the hours upon hours I spent on the internet.
Occasionally it occurs to me that people not much younger than I am would never even consider this, just as I would never consider it interesting that a company publishes their phone number. That thought, maybe as a result of my glass-is-half-full mentality, always leads me to the next thought: I am really lucky to be born when I was.
Maybe everyone else also feels as though their generation is especially blessed, but I can't help but think that mine really got the best deal around. In the less than 30 years I've been around, I've seen the invention of the cell phone, the computer, and the internet. Better than just witnessing it, these things came out when I was a curious teenager with a lot of free time to tinker.
The best part, though, is that none of these things were around when I was really young. I wasn't allowed to watch TV, so I spent most of my childhood outdoors. Society wasn't quite so skittish about, well, everything, so my friends, siblings, and I had free run of the neighborhood, which bordered a state park. I could call my friends (on landlines, of course), and go meet them at our fort in the woods, without even needing parental approval. We built things, raced around, and used our imaginations. In the winter we went into the woods to find the biggest hill and make jumps on it. In the summer we made fishing poles out of sticks and dug for worms to impale on the hooks we found near the water's edge.
I'm not sure that kind of childhood really exists anymore. I know all too well how easy it is to get sucked into the internet and live vicariously rather than actively. Parents are so scared of everything that when I set my kids loose in the neighborhood, they might not have anyone to play with.
Maybe older generations would say the same thing about when they were kids. They certainly do tend to think of "back then" as some sort of golden age. Maybe kids now think feel like they've got it great. One thing is certain though: we live in a great time and it will never be like this again. Let's enjoy it.
Funny reading Tynan. But I feel the complete opposite when I read your title.
Im 19 years old, and I feel like I was born infront of a computer, since my and my brother have always had interest in gizmos and technologies, we quickly spent hours and hours in front of the computer(we got our first when I was about 6-7 and have had one ever since). But if I could just remove every computer, the internet, tvs(at least in its form of entertaining, we need information in some way) etc, with the push of a button - I would do it a thousand times.
You do learn things from movies, from tv-shows, from the internet - But you waste so insanely much time on it if you have the time. I have often dreamt of living in an earlier time, not needing to think of how little battery you have left, what your crush is doing on facebook or which new games you can waste time and money on. Right now my best way of getting this to happen in some way, is becoming a nomade :) But first I need my poject to explode economicly. But thanks for the read! :)
I just came across a bunch of printing industry trade magazines when I was decluttering. They are from the 90's. It is amazing to see how in 1995 almost no ads have web addresses, and then as the years go forward the percentage rises rapidly. By 1999 it is only the rare company that has not added a website. Leafing through these mags is like a timeline of web evolution. Intriguing post, Tynan!
Yeah, i grew up in a town of <300 until i was about 11 so my childhood was pretty much all outdoors, rural lifestyle. Now, i see all my friends with kids that are all cooped up playing XBOX all day...
Where are you in the photo.. the guy at the back with the red hat and beard looks like a ghost!
I was born in 1984, now 25yo.. during my school years I went from handwriting essays to being the only kid to use a typewriter to produce homework to being at university where it was mandatory to back up assignments on University network and carry spare copies on USB key drives.
Now, some kids have no idea what a typewriter is... I'm not even that old!
Yes the internet is awesome and so are cellphones. I bet wheels, printing presses and chocolate were just as cool when they were invented (Actually all those things are still pretty cool). In a hundred years from now I bet people will be thinking how lucky they are to be alive when the first teleporter is invented or when the Jetsons comes true.
I think what I am trying to say is that life is incredible no matter when or where you are if you take the time to realize it!
I have very much enjoyed your recent posts Tynan. They have been very thought provoking. Thank you!
I'm pretty old to have young kids - I'm 47, and have three boys between 6 months and 5-1/2. I've always thought kids growing up after the 1980s had totally boring lives. I guess the cutoff isn't so hard.
Anyway, I run a blog and am writing a book all about giving our kids a life of neighborhood play. Check out Playborhood.com. There's a lot of info and discussion on this topic there, with *lots* more to come.
I think this is a product of your optimism rather than the actual fact that we were lucky to born when we were. It's all a matter of perspective.
The generation before us thought, "gee it's so awesome to have our own paper to write on rather than black slates. Can you believe people had to run everywhere before roller skates? What about the pain of having to call an operator just to make a phone call rather than using our good ol' analog wheel to dial it ourselves!" They may even lament about how easy it was to smoke in restaurants, and fly on planes before everything tightened up.
Similarly, the new generation will count their blessings being able to easily communicate via text, the space efficiency of TVs, and the movement towards clean air and green living.
I just feel lucky to ALIVE!
I have a niece who is just a few years older than you. While she has been on the net she doesn't own a computer and doesn't feel the need to own one. She lives in a rural area of Minnesota and I don't beleive she locks her house or car doors very often. Her 3 children are free to roam the fields and the few streets of the small town in which they live. There are a very few pockets of the USA where the net hasn't penetrated very deeply though they are shrinking rapidly and may very well disappear within a few years.
Oh, I can totally relate to this...being around during these awesome changes is a lot of fun! It reminds me of the Chinese saying "May you live in interesting times." Which I believe was intended as a curse, but which I take to be a great blessing.
There are a lot of things in my childhood that I remember, and feel a bit sorry for today's kids for not getting to experience, like running around in the wilderness doing all kinds of "dangerous" things.
I'm still alive...and glad to be.
My mom once joked that I make her look like my enemy on my blog. The force that I rebelled against as a youngster was my parents, so they get painted as the opposition sometimes. I'm proud of this rebellious streak, and attribute some of my success to it, but also know that I would have none of what I have if it wasn't for them.
Even ignoring the all-trumping donation of their genetic material, my parents, along with the rest of my family, are unquestionably the biggest positive force in my life. Although it doesn't usually make it into sappy blog posts like this one, the truth is that every single day, I think about how incredibly lucky I am to have such incredible parents. If I dwell on the thought too long, I find myself fighting back tears of gratitude.
As someone who enjoys a huge degree of personal freedom, I am only now beginning to be able to comprehend the sacrifices that my parents have made for me. I was a difficult child even before I was born, giving my mother 36 hours of labor before finally popping out into the world. From that time until long after I left the house, she and my father put my needs above their own. It's fair to say that for most or all of that time, I didn't realize how profound this sacrifice was, let alone acknowledge it.
Seriously…so did most of my friends. We all grew up with very limited resources. Not to say it was all bad. My mom was handicapped and my dad had a pretty good job as a counselor for juveniles with the state. Money we didn’t have a lot of. And I mean it, many times the fridge was empty and we had to wait for a paycheck to get more food. My parents are far too proud to get help from the government. We never starved and did have something every meal but it was often close. I was luckier than most of my friends growing up. Most of them lived with step parents or even grandma, and many of the kids I grew up with ended up in jail. But ya, so when you can never afford the snacks that all the rich kids could, you take advantage of the situation. All we did everyday in the summer was walk around or ride our bikes. So when we walked behind the factory outlet bread store and found a bunch of fully wrapped pastries thrown away I think we each had at least four or five.
I know what you are thinking, but don’t judge. They were delicious! Come on they had only been expired a few days….whatever! I am not sure what this story means. Maybe that’s where I got my do more with less attitude. I don’t know. But I know this, when you grow up with no resources you see opportunities where other don’t. When you struggle a little it gives you compassion. Or maybe it doesn’t. Plenty of my friends from back in the day are pretty cold to the rest of the world. But let me tell you firsthand that the middle class is shrinking.
I have no moral lesson to this, I just find it interesting. The more I think about my childhood the more I realize how strange it was……and you can bet we often checked back to see what else the bread store would throw out.