My 15 year old daughter came out to dinner with me earlier this week. We drove, of course, to a local restaurant and the normal chit-chat about softball was superseded by her inquiring if I was aware of the launch date for the iphone 5? “The iphone 5?” I said, with slightly raised eyebrows and a wry smile. “Yes, I would like to upgrade to that one when it comes out. I am due for an upgrade?” My thoughts drifted instantly to when I was her age, and I wish I could say that it wasn’t that long ago, but I can’t and so it’s with these fond memories that I decided to write this article.
Life was very simple when I grew up, or at least it appeared that way. Perhaps it was naiveté, perhaps it was just the atmosphere of the small town environment in which we existed, or perhaps my imagination is running riot, but either way, we had little and more importantly, we needed little to enjoy the life we were given. I remember vividly putting a golf bag on my back, walking 3 miles to the golf course, and walking all 18 holes before returning the 3 miles on foot to my home. We thought nothing of it, it was all part of our growing up, our culture, our initiation into this world. We had no cell phones, in fact we only had one telephone in the house, a rotary dial one at that, and by the way, this was less than 40 years ago. We had one car, eventually we got a second, we walked everywhere, we never went out to eat, ever, and when color TV came out, we were glued to it for weeks, trying hard to figure out where black and white had actually gone? A once a week trip to the cinema was a real treat and my friends and I never belonged to any teams where we played sports, we all gathered outside my house or one of the other houses in the neighborhood to play ‘headers and kicks’, a game involving a soccer ball, two heads and 4 feet, and we played until it got dark, in the summer time that was around 11 PM, or until Mr Muir, our eccentric next door neighbor came out shouting and screaming, “get aff the bloody road ya bunch of didies, or I’ll stab yer balls” Which roughly translated means, “it’s 11 PM lads, time for bed” We never argued with our elders, there was always respect, well, most of the time, unless we were playing ding dong squoosh, a wild game involving truth or dare. The dares would always put at risk Mrs Huber’s prize winning flowers! Anyway, at the age of 15 the little we had seemed to suffice and even though there was often an incline to sample the wonders of that ‘outside’ world, we would never ever ask our parents when we could upgrade the phone or the TV or the car. We just didn’t care. The most important thing on our daily ‘to do’ list, was being who we were and getting on with life in the most respectful and industrious manner possible.
Back to my daughter, and her inclination that an upgrade to a new iphone would be welcomed and appreciated. So, in that very same conversation came the “when I’m 16 I’d like a Mustang” bombshell. “How about NFC” was the response, which again, translated from it’s Scottish origins means, forget it. She was on a roll, and I looked inside my own heart and then at her tanned face, asking myself, did I do something wrong here? Where did all this expectation come from? Is it ingrained in her soul from my inability to parent in the right way OR, is it just a sad reflection of the youth today? The expectant populous, the ‘I need it now’ generation? I believe it’s all of the above, and perhaps more. I believe that we, as adults and parents, have created this, so called, entitled culture, where the latest greatest, is the only thing that matters, and it only matters NOW! There are no signs, so far as I can see, that our youth have any appreciation for what we didn’t have. They expect, and they are given, whereas we had to work to earn to pay. My grandfather always told me,”if you don’t have it, don’t spend it, whereas today it seems just the opposite, if you don’t have it, spend it anyway!
There is so much to be said for technology and the way it has improved our lives, but we did just fine without it too. How many of you out there really need an iphone, a Droid or a Blackberry? Certainly not my daughter, so it’s my fault for introducing her to this rat race in the first place and now it is my purpose to deter her from believing that she has to be at the cutting edge of everything that is shiney and new, and my intention to educate her into a more appreciative stance on everything she wants and how to get it without asking daddy.