It’s almost as if our children’s generation, and our grandchildren’s, live in a whole new world, so different than the one in which we baby boomers grew up. One cause? Social media. From Plano, Texas, Sharyn Diamond rates their childhood against her own.
Someone recently asked me if my childhood was better without all the social media bells and whistles that children and teens have access to today. My answer was a resounding “Yes, no doubt about it!”
I hardly had a minute to spare as a kid, day or night, with all the activities both inside and outside like sports, roller skating, sledding in the winter, Brownies and Girl Scouts, ballet, riding our bikes to the library, and taking in the sand and water at Ontario Beach Park near Rochester, New York. And, I remember wonderful family activities like picnics, drive-in movies in our ’55 Chevy convertible, semiannual visits to Niagara Falls, and vacations in Cape Cod.
Not that my grandchildren’s world is inferior, but it’s less physically and socially interactive with other people. Cell phones are tangible objects, not people. In other words, not the real deal! Just think about that for a moment. Texting has replaced one-on-one conversations and face-to-face contact. Sure there are “apps” that allow you to have “face time,” but there is no substitute for an in-person meeting, pandemic or no pandemic. And, social media is just that, media. It’s no wonder teens and young adults don’t know the intricacies and enjoyment of a good old conversation. It’s just too easy to get out your mobile device and type.
There are things that can’t be duplicated or replaced by social media. Our senses are suffering from not hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, or feeling. No matter how many emojis you use, there’s nothing like expressing those feelings in person. In my day, The Beatles song “I Want to Hold Your Hand” really meant “I want to hold your hand,” not “I want to hold your cell phone.” We had fewer interruptions of annoying ringtones, and more opportunities to truly connect with our peers, family, and others.
Of course with Covid entering the picture, there has been much isolation and cell phones have been extremely helpful. But as I see it, today’s kids seem to be happy doing what they’re doing, and that’s what’s important. One could also comment, “Sharyn, today’s youth has the best of both worlds, one that expands their universe anywhere on earth with speed and efficiency, as well as reaching out to others in person.” But it’s not that simple. Being the baby boomer I am, I still prefer the good old days and not worrying about where I misplaced my cell phone… again.
Sharyn has a children’s book out: Amy’s Amazing Hats: A Book About Friendship, Caring and Kindness.