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.
Despite mostly cutting myself off from parental financing in high school, I've actually only had a "real" job for less than a year total in my life. I attribute this not to any great genius on my part, but rather to habit. It was what I was used to doing. I knew that I couldn't get a job when I was a kid, and probably didn't think too highly of them even back then, but I figured that there must be some way for me to make money on my own.
I jumped in head first when I was ten, and, as a result, got in way over my head. One of they joys of my childhood was visiting a small amusement park in New Hampshire called "Canobie Lake Park". I only got to go once or twice per summer, though, and I figured other kids were probably in the same boat. How great would it be if I opened up an amusement park in my neighborhood?
The 4th of July is my favorite holiday. Why? Because it's one of the only holidays during which everyone remembers the real meaning. I love waking up on Independence Day to sunshine and happy people - many people don't have to work and are happier because of this. I love driving around and buying fireworks and groceries for a barbecue. I love seeing everyone all dressed up in our country's colors, and I love seeing our armed forces in uniform.
I've had several 4th of July traditions throughout my nineteen years. As a middle school student we would go to the Oregon coast and watch a parade and fireworks, but when I was little, I lived on a street with seventeen kids my age. There were seventeen kids in my grade living on my street, and their siblings. So for every holiday we would have events and parties, and the whole neighborhood would come together. On Independence Day, the kids would decorate their bikes with red, white and blue streamers. I'd wear my Old Navy shirt and my brother would wear his Uncle Sam costume. Afterwards, we'd have some of the neighbors over for a barbecue in my driveway, and some of the dads would join the kids in a game of kickball. My friend and I would draw a chalk American flag in the cul-de-sac. The kids would do sparklers and we'd light off smoke bombs and the fireworks that shot out the little army men with parachutes. When it got dark, we'd pull out lawn chairs and line the sidewalk surrounding the cul-de-sac. Families from out of town would visit specifically for this holiday. The dads would light off fireworks, getting bigger and bigger until the grand finale, which usually involved a couple of fireworks we probably weren't allowed to light off legally. It was one of the best traditions. One day we woke up early and drove four hours to make it back in time for the neighborhood fireworks.
This year, I worked on the 4th. I was supposed to hang out with some friends, but my plans didn't work out and I cried. I cried because I didn't get to do anything. But then I realized something: My childhood traditions were all about America. It was about celebrating our country, our freedom, our neighbors. It was about having a family, a house, a neighborhood - a country worth celebrating.