There was a video doing the rounds online last year where these kids were handed a cassette tape and had no idea what it was. It got me thinking and wondering what other things my boys will grow up not knowing? Not just things either, but experiences.
Take Spotify as an example. In December, Spotify happily told me that my yearly stats were in and it proudly presented me with my most popular track listenings for 2017. Top of the list was ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me’ by Randy Newman. Toy Story. Next up was ‘Hakuna Matata’ and ‘I Just Can’t Wait to be King’. The Lion King. Now I won’t pretend to have a supercool taste in music myself, but still.
These kids are ruining my street cred. Or online cred anyway, if that is actually a thing!
But anyway, it’s more than just them corrupting my cool playlists, it got me thinking about the vast differences already between their childhood and my own. If you think about it, they have access to millions of songs under one roof in Spotify, available to them at any time without any waiting. There’ll be no saving up their pocket money to buy a single or an album, and listening to that album to the death because it was all that would fit in your Walkman at any one time anyway.
No waiting for the DJ to stop talking to press record when your favourite song came on (Atlantic 252!) and hoping the end of the song wouldn’t get interrupted by them either. Nothing worse!
So by default then, it’s unlikely that they’ll sit and listen to whole albums at all, unless it’s by someone they happen to really like.
But do you see what I mean? You could go deeper and question whether as a whole piece of art, is the art of albums as they were, dying? Will people appreciate them as a whole piece of work the way they used to anymore?
Another aspect is the patience. They don’t have to wait for anything, it’s all just there at the tap of a screen. Recently, I recorded a Disney movie that was on one of the TV channels (even that in itself feels retro now with the Netflix lifestyle), and while Rian was watching it, the ads came on. He didn’t know what they were or where his movie was gone. He went looking for the remote control to hand it to me to put the movie back on!
At first I went to fast forward the ads but then I thought, no! You can sit and wait and watch them, just like I had to!
In fact, you’re still doing better than I did in the 80s – we didn’t get movies until they were released about two years later on VHS, so be glad! And so he did watch the ads. Which resulted in him asking me about three different toys, so I still lose in this scenario, but still. It’s the principle of the matter! And they’ll never have to worry what time something will be on at. It will all just magically be there waiting for them whenever they are ready to watch it.
So I wonder is this the 21st century version of the whole ‘back in my day we went to school barefoot’ type stuff that my parents used to come out with? (Not that they actually went barefoot, but you know what I mean). How have I become my parents already?! And on a more serious note, what effect will this lifestyle of no waiting actually have on shaping them as people? Very deep, maybe, but very apt too I think.
Another thing is your basic memory. Kids will never need to have to remember a list of different phone numbers the way we did, everything will be stored for them. And on that note, will they even ring people when they’re old enough to have phones (which will be 18 if I have my way!)? Nowadays it’s all texts. Do teenagers ring each other at all anymore?
I’m aware I sound 90 even asking that question. When we had no internet to keep us occupied, we would ring our best friend from school and chat away on the phone about all the important teenagery things in our lives. Ugh didn’t you hate when you rang your friend and someone else in their family used to answer the phone? Or even worse, if someone else in your house was already on the phone and you had to wait until they were finished.
I wonder is there any other generation before us where such changes were so vast between parents and their children’s childhood?
I’m not sure. Maybe every generation thinks this type of thing – well it’s even a cliché isn’t it? ‘You don’t know you’re born’ type of comeback your parents used to throw at you if you complained about anything.
It’s kind of frightening too. I genuinely worry at the thought of my two as teenagers, living a life so vastly different to how mine was. Will I be able to relate to them at all? Will I be able to understand any problems they might have growing up in certain situations, online social aspects that I have no experience of? Even Facebook is a dying breed, as far as I can tell no self-respecting teenager is seen dead in there anymore.
It frightens me to think of potential dangers that might lurk that not only I can’t protect them from, but that I don’t even know to look out for them in the first place.
It’s not all bad of course, there are plenty of aspects of technology that makes parenting so much easier, from ‘HOW DO I DO THIS?!’ type frantic Google searching, with instant answers, to apps and online support groups for, well, support but also for fun too.
But in lots of ways, I can’t help thinking that despite the advances of technology, my sons will miss out on lots more than I had growing up – using our own imagination, anticipation – having to actually wait for things….real life fun!
So in an effort to replicate part of my own childhood for them I have made it my business to regularly expose them to 80s and 90s music. I’ll be damned if my kids don’t grow up knowing all the right cheese! They’ll thank me for it I’m sure…. won’t they….?!