Remember the days when you had to get your courage up to tell that special person how you felt? Or had to break off a relationship in PERSON? Not anymore. Now you just type what’s on your mind, click “SEND,” and you never even have to look them in the eye. Communication these days is more simulation than sensation. You see and hear it but you don’t really feel it.
Back in the day, gossip took weeks to get around. You either had to witness the dirty deed yourself or hear about it through the grapevine. Now, in mere seconds, you can send/receive pictures, live videos or access heretofore ‘private’ stuff from thousands of folks without moving from your chair. And while such supersonic speed saves lives, it also destroys them.
Now I’m not suggesting a return to the days when the stagecoach brought the mail. (Although I do imagine the thrill of hearing the approach of pounding hoof beats stirred the heart more than a mere cell phone ‘ding.’) But our generation of kids operates in a sea of instant gratification. If they make a mistake, they hit, “DELETE.” With impulse at the helm, there’s no steering clear of the rocks. Disaster is always imminent. Just ask the survivors from the Costa Concordia.
Last year, I spoke at a parent’s meeting at my daughter’s school. Afterwards, I drove straight home. It’s a five-minute trip. The second I walked in, my daughter yelled: “Hey. I just heard what you said in the meeting.” How? Some Mom told her kid what I said, who then texted my daughter. So much for a ‘Parent’s’ meeting.
I do wish my kids knew what it was like to have to wait weeks just to get a letter from someone special; something they could hold, cherish and rediscover years later in some forgotten box. But there’s no going back. Like an Olympian, I have to focus on the challenge ahead, not the guy behind me.
Right now, mine is teaching my teen how to drive. She has mastered acceleration. If I hold my breath just right, she can even park between two cars without removing their side mirrors. Frankly, I’d like to put an egg between her foot and the brake. What’s her REAL challenge besides scouring the road ahead for bicyclists, bolting dogs or bumpy potholes? Anticipating the impending light change. . . then watching for the car that might run it. You can’t simulate that. It’s real.