Close your eyes. Picture the days when you were young, back in the day, frolicking in the sun, kicking around a football or chasing your friends in a competitive game of hide and seek. Immerse yourself in that life, the scraped elbows and scabbed knees, the toothless grins and the crates of Pepsi delivered to your doorstep.
Now, think of your parents. Remember the amount of time you spent in each other’s company, either enjoying the great outdoors (weather permitting), or the “few” mall options that were available in the nineties (back then the majority were called complexes). Notice how you were never staring at the top of your parents’ heads, with an eerie, other-worldly glow streaming from the palm of their hands?
If you believe this article is meant to lambast the Smartphone and how it has taken time away from families, turning them into mindless zombies in constant need to satiate their appetite with selfies, likes and comments on all forms of social soap boxes, then you are partially correct. We are analyzing it from a different angle, though.
Go back to that image of your parents. Do you recall how vacations were? Specifically, the absence of any screen, whether hand-held or lugged around in a suitcase like a giant handcuff, shackling your mind to Netflix, the internet or worse, email?
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the devil is in the details. And the details of the 21st century are morose. We have completely lost the ability to isolate ourselves from the world around us.
When I wanted to call my dad, I had to call a switchboard, if he was at his station, hooray, we got to have a conversation. If not, he would call me back. Now, I simply whip out my nifty mobile phone, key in his number (because I am a good son who learns the important numbers off by heart, not just restaurants) and reach him wherever he might be. For family, this might seem like a godsend. However, it can also be used for nefarious purposes – the J O B.
Yesteryear, vacations were a time to truly relax, to totally switch off and drop off the grid. Whether you were traipsing about your old stomping grounds, or gawking at unfamiliar sights of unexplored destinations. You were not electronically tethered to your workplace. Which begets the question, what are we teaching our children?
Strike up a conversation with any new-age parent, and the drivel that comes out of their mouths is almost identical – we do not allow our children more than 30 minutes of screen time a day, we strive to keep them off Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc. We may be able to dominate them with an iron fist, whilst the sad reality remains. As we strictly keep our children off of technology, we are merely present at home in the form of husks; empty shells with minds tied down at the office, where we failed to punch out on time, and instead brought this savage intruder from the workplace and into the home.
I stand not upon a soap box preaching, but amongst the masses lamenting the irreplaceable loss of quality time as a result of always being on call. You do not need to be a family man to feel this loss. Every day, everyone around you gets a little bit older, a little bit more tired, whilst you (and I) are always answering emails, always taking phone calls. The age of our parents’ oblivion to technology seems almost like a golden age of quality family time.
How can we teach our children to use technology responsibly, as we continue to abuse it both personally and worse, professionally? You can easily take time off of social media when you are posting about yourself, but when your client requests a last minute change, or a barrage of replies, you find yourself unable to refuse. You will never again have a true and proper vacation, unless you somehow manage to lose your mobile phone and develop selective amnesia which prevents you from remembering your work email password.
For the new year, let us not make the same mistake of choosing fitness as the generic resolution. Rather, lets aim to add quality to the time we spend at home, by leaving the office where it is, and occasionally our mobile phones there, too.
Like the Rubik’s Cube, Ayman Nassar is multi-colored in his interests, from running to organizing races, stand-up comedy and internal audit, plus a little writing on the side. You can find him on youtube.com/lordaymz or follow him on Instagram @lordaymz. Photo by Harry Sandhu on Unsplash.