Cell phones. Tablets. iPods. iPads. Laptops. Kindles. Facebook. Twitter. Technology is all around us, so every day, every minute of every day we are always connected to someone somewhere. Can you even remember the time that we just lived in the moment for what it was worth?
Don’t get me wrong, all this new technology has certainly made our lives better in so many ways. With cell phones no one has to ever fear being stranded and alone anymore while traveling. Parents don’t have to pace the floor anymore wondering if their teenagers are safe, they are only a phone call away. Students are way smarter because they don’t have to wallow through tons of encyclopedias (do you kids out there even know what these are?!). Instead, information on any subject is just a click away on the web. Computers have made so many advances in modern medicine.
These are all magnificent strides for mankind, but what about everyday life? I wonder if youngsters are sometimes robbed of some of the wonders of childhood because of all their “devices.” How many times do your children or grandchildren come to visit and all the while you are carrying on a conversation with them, they are texting someone else? If it is that important, why aren’t they with that someone else? But then, if they were, they would probably be texting someone else.
We stopped for a bite to eat the other night at Cracker Barrel. Sitting at the table next to us were a grandmother, grandfather and their teenage granddaughter. Through the whole meal the grandfather was on his cell phone and the granddaughter was on hers while the grandmother was left to watch the people around her. Yep, that was some quality together time!
Sadly, these electronic devices are sometimes used as substitute babysitters. Children (and adults) can play for hours on their Gameboy trying to get to the next level of a certain game. Some parents are happy because the youngsters are entertained, thus leaving parents with free time. These games aren’t all bad, many have remarkable sound effects and visuals and do challenge the mind. But still, there is nothing keener or more intriguing than one’s own imagination. Remember the monsters from childhood? No matter how scary the ones in the movies were, they were nothing compared with those that crept into our own minds in the wee hours.
We were spies and pirates and cowboys and astronauts. The back porch became the pirate ship and we would dive off in search of buried treasure. The night sky gave us the whole universe to guide the Starship Enterprise through the heavens in search of our own places where no man has ventured before. There were nights our imagination took us to such new heights that Captain Kirk would have been so proud of us.
Yes, imagination is a wonderful gift that can set us free and modern-day electronic games can either expound on that imagination or squelch it. Remember the game “Dungeons and Dragons”? It became so real to certain teens that they couldn’t separate it from reality. Unfortunately in some circumstances, this caused some sad outcomes when they tried to live the game in the here and now. We have to be careful.
Recently, we spent a few days at Kim and Arnie’s, our daughter and son-in-law, hunting camp in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It was some of the best days we’ve had in quite a while. They have a landline phone in the cabin for emergencies but cell phones didn’t work there. At rare times we could get signals to text, but no conversations. So, how did we survive being “unplugged”? Wonderfully!
We took a Polaris Ranger, a friend’s Rhino and a couple 4-wheelers and rode trails. These were the same trails that snowmobilers ride in winter so we saw some magnificent scenery and wildlife. We rode in search of the “lost trapper’s cabin” though we couldn’t get back to it. Legend has it that an old trapper once built this cabin to provide shelter from the elements. No one seems to know who built it, but different ones have kept it up through the years. Recently, someone put a new roof on it, those who pass by leave a blanket, some canned food, a lantern and other useful objects for the next person who passes through and needs shelter. What a wonderful act of human kindness exemplified!
Our 13-year old grandson Wyatt was along, and he definitely had the kind of experience that every boy his age deserves to have at least once in a lifetime. Kim and Arnie’s cabin is on the banks of Pole Creek Lake, which is literally smack dab in the middle of nowhere. There is a little general store seven miles up the road if you really need anything.
Wyatt went fishing the first night we were there and caught a 25 1/2-inch pike. Needless to say, he was “hooked” for the rest of our stay. When we weren’t riding trails, he was on the lake. He got to take the boat out and troll by himself, and he and his dad spent a lot of time on the lake just fishing and talking. Priceless!
Wherever he goes and whatever he does in life, he will never forget these few days. If he had been home, do you think he would always remember who he texted or what games he played those few days?
I remember a lot of the weird stuff we did as youngsters and called it fun. Anybody remember the old beanie hats that we put on our heads and shot the “beanies” (colored propeller-shaped wheels) into the air? Our grandparents would always drive down to Michigan’s fruit belt by Lake Michigan and bring back cherries, raspberries, blueberries and other fruits when they were in season. Since cars went a lot slower back then, they would not get back until nearly dark. All of us cousins would see who could catch the most fireflies while our parents divided up the fruit.
True, today’s technical devices teach children a lot more than shooting a beanie off your head! But the simple memories we made will last a lifetime.
I want to keep reaping the rewards of modern technology. But I also hope we all, children and adults, remember to “unplug” occasionally so we don’t miss out on life itself.