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.
It's a dangerous night to be walking outside. Not for me, but for the tiny little frogs that dot the gravel road. I swish my overpowered Surefire flashlight across the dark gravel trying to avoid stepping on them. When I get close they freeze in their tracks, making them harder to see. This would be a good reflex if I was trying to eat them, but it's working against them tonight.
I'm walking down to the beach for old times' sake. It's 2am and I'm in Milton, Vermont. Calling it a beach is generous. Shale rocks densely scattered over green outcroppings of weeds lead up to murky water. There are a few docks and a few boats pulled up out of the water. They're not locked to anything - they're just sitting there.
I crouch, pick up one of the little green frogs, and watch him slowly climb around my wrist as I rotate it. I probably haven't touched a frog in ten years. Playing with frogs used to be my favorite thing to do when I was in Vermont. I liked to catch them in a bucket and then empty it into the nearby creek and watch them swim away. Sometimes we'd throw them in the air so that they'd land in the lake. That seems a bit inhumane now, but we didn't know better back then. We were kids. I lower my arm to the ground and nudge the frog off of my wrist.
As you may have discerned from previous posts, I didn’t grow up in a “hip-hop” household, per se. In fact, to this day, the only “hip-hop” album in my dad’s collection was a clearance MEGABASS sampler disc, purchased to test out the subwoofer in his vehicle. As a young kid, I knew there was other music out there, but before you are old enough to have strong opinions, you are more or less locked into the music that your parents choose for you. For me, that typically meant classic rock mixed in with 90s alternative rock with a dash of current top 40s if my mother was driving. I’m not upset about that, and I don’t feel brainwashed because my parents both listen to good music.
This changed around 4th grade. That is when watching MTV’s TRL (Boo! Hiss!) became a staple of my afterschool routine. There, I heard Eminem’s “My Name Is” for the first time. I remember being in awe trying to keep up with the words he was saying. It was so different from every piece of music to which I was accustomed. I went online and printed the lyrics to follow along. Luckily, as a ten-year old, I didn’t understand everything/didn’t have the patience to sit through dial-up internet speeds to find out/find any of those slang terms on Microsoft Encarta. Eminem’s ability to rhyme was entrancing to me as a younger kid. I, like most of America, couldn’t look away. The fact that he looked like me (read: white), had very little to do with my fascination.
The first rap album I ever owned was The Eminem Show. I paid for it, but due to the obviously present “PARENTAL ADVISORY” sticker, my mother had to actually perform the transaction. I like to think this is not because she’s a terrible mother, but because she a) didn’t want to create a taboo out of music, and b) trusted my psyche and maturity to be able to handle his more “colorful” metaphors. Thanks, Mom! It was purchased at the music store in Sumter, SC, briefly after we moved from New Jersey. Suddenly, removed from the friendly confines of the military base, and displaced in the land of Dixie, race became something that I began to think about.
Before we go any further, I think it’s important to reiterate how normal of a childhood I had. I almost wish there were more that I could complain about so that I could be a great artist, but the truth is I always had everything I needed, most of what I wanted, and a loving, supporting family. I like to think that I really didn’t have a rebellious, angst-y phase. So when I say this album was important to me, it’s not because I was in a dark place, experimenting with drugs or violence, or hating my parents.