If you’re under the age of 19 and you don’t have a cell phone, you’re considered a bit freakish. Seriously. It’s a very rare person who does not own a cell phone now. And it continues to surprise me that despite the big costs involved, almost everyone in that same demographic also has a laptop, an mp3 player and probably a video game console.
We are certainly the plugged in generation. In fact, that’s what we’re being called. As there was Generation X and Generation Y, we’re plugged in. There are some pretty cool advantages to being so technologically savvy, but there are some serious down sides too.
On the upside, it’s not a lot that we can’t educate ourselves about if we want to. The world is at our fingertips if we just take the time to check it out. Technology gives me my music and keeps renegadepress.com interesting and possible. Without my knowledge of things technical, the site wouldn’t exist, or if it did, it’d probably be pretty boring with little in the way of graphics and certainly none of the video and photography components.
So even though we’re pretty advanced in some ways with all of our ‘plugged in’ powers, we’re pretty sheltered too. I actually left my phone at home the other day and went to the mall. I admit that I reached for it a few times out of habit, you know, just to check it. When it wasn’t there, I felt a bit panicked for a minute, then I got a grip. I was alone and without my cell phone, I felt really, really alone. There were no text messages and there were no phone calls. I hadn’t checked my facebook page and I hadn’t checked in with Nicole or Zoey or Sandi or … anyone. It was kind of weird. Then I decided to take a look around me and see just what other teens were doing. Not surprisingly, they were all hooked up. Lots were with friends, but they were looking at their phones (probably texting) or they were talking on their phones while they were ignoring the people they were with. Teens who were alone had mp3’s in their ears and were texting. I saw one group of teens who weren’t talking on the phone, they were talking to each other. As they got close enough for me to hear them, I realized they were talking about their phones and about the text messages they had just sent or received. Kind of lame.
Where’s the conversation gone? It’s been said that for all of our technological connections, we are the most disconnected generation yet. We don’t know how to be alone and we fear it. I kind of get that now that I’ve take a serious look at what it means. As part of my experiment, I tried to remember the last time we sat down as a family and made dinner, ate dinner together and then cleaned the kitchen together and even more, then did an evening activity together. Couldn’t remember one. It’s not that we’re not close, we are. It’s just that Crystal and I are teens who are totally and completely addicted to our phones and our music. Family time is usually rushed through and then we both blast off and busy ourselves with listening to music, chatting online, surfing the next, texting or facebooking – sometimes all at the same time. No wonder we’re afraid to be alone.
I challenge you to take a minute to unplug. Stop and take a look around you and reintroduce yourself to conversation. Talk to your parents. They aren’t likely as in to texting and IMing as you are, so try talking to them, they’ll probably really appreciate it and you’ll probably feel pretty good too. We need our parents and we need people – real people – in our lives so take the time to look them in the eye once and awhile.