Aaron R. Davis
“I’m so thankful I had a childhood before technology took over.”
Somebody was throwing that around on social media last week, and over 90,000 people agreed.
All 90,000 of you are idiots. Every last one.
Unless you were born centuries ago, you are idiots. That’s it. Period. End of sentence.
Especially the person who posted it, who is nearly 20 years younger than I am.
This is one of the most annoying things about human beings: the selective memories of the past. “Oh, well, my life was simpler and I feel I was more engaged in the world than kids are today, so my generation was The Last Good Generation.”
Ugh. Do you ever get tired of this shit?
You didn’t have a childhood before technology “took over.” No one living did. Sure, maybe you went to camp or even played outside or something, but technology still ruled your life. It probably made your childhood better. I know it did mine.
I was born in 1976. My childhood was dominated by the Atari 2600, Steven Spielberg movies, Saturday morning cartoons and Michael Jackson records. I was obsessed with Star Wars and the Space Program. I saw Halley’s Comet when I was 10 through a powerful telescope. I went to the library and checked out books printed on a real press. I played outside, and then I came inside to eat processed meats and Twinkies. I went camping with flashlights and drank Pepsi, which you’ll notice comes in a can that has been pressurized. We drove to campgrounds in cars and listened to the radio while I played with my Speak ‘n’ Spell in the backseat. I called my friends on the phone (or on walkie-talkies) to come over so we could try to build a race car with parts from an old vacuum cleaner engine. We put dishes in the dishwasher and made coffee in a percolator. We had toasters and microwaves and VCRs, played with our Transformers while watching MTV all day, and lived in a house with central air conditioning.
You may recognize nearly all of that as stuff that only happens because technology is a thing that exists.
Sure, we didn’t have the Internet and smart phones and HD, but that doesn’t mean my childhood was a quaint time that I spent having a lot of social interaction with peers while we, I don’t know, stood around and talked about farming, or something.
Technology made my childhood better. In fact, it enabled me to have one. I didn’t have to hitch up wagons to go anywhere. I didn’t have to do laborious chores for hours a day and work myself too hard just to eat. I had clean drinking water and vaccines and regular physical check-ups. I had a wealth of information available to me that previous generations didn’t have, simply because of cable television and computers and the way computers made it easier to borrow books from not just my library, but an entire library system.
And now someone 15 years younger than me thinks she had a childhood free from technology? Excuse me? How many DVDs were in the house when you were a kid?
Technology has made information easy to find. It’s made entertainment easy to procure. It’s made it possible to connect with people all over the globe in mere instants. And technology makes it possible to develop other technology more quickly. We have electric cars now. We have satellite phones. We have missions to Mars. We have more advanced prosthetics than at any other time in history. We have freaking Avengers movies.
Look, sometimes technology can be used for bad things. We have fracking, drone warfare, a weird fetish for making guns more and more capable of greater and greater slaughter, OKCupid and Justin Bieber mp3s. And yeah, we have a lot of people who waste their time on the Internet. Technology is a tool, and it can be used for all sorts of nonsense, just like all of the rest of our tools.
But technology has made it easier to strive for more. It’s made it possible for us to uncover the way the universe works. It’s made it easier to raise children who live longer. Aren’t you lucky? You don’t have to chase down an animal just to eat. Technology has made food so available that you can even choose not to eat animals at all. It’s given you a wealth of choice in just about every aspect of life.
You had a childhood before technology took over? Of course you didn’t! No one alive at this moment in time did. The fact that you have electric lights and don’t die from preventable diseases proves that.
You shouldn’t be “glad” that you had a childhood “before” technology became prevalent (which you didn’t). What you should be is ashamed that this wealth of technology hasn’t been spread around more throughout the rest of the world, so that everyone’s childhood has clean drinking water and vaccines and internet and HD and electric cars and, if you must have them, Justin Bieber mp3s.
“I’m so thankful I had a childhood before technology took over” is a pretty privileged thing to say, especially when it’s just flat out untrue and unrealistic. And stupidly ironic considering you said it on social media.
Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org