Techno miracles don’t impress our kids | Bill Cotterell – Yahoo News

Techno miracles don’t impress our kids | Bill Cotterell – Yahoo News

Going through some old notes and photos from Christmases past, I ran across a Facebook post by my daughter-in-law that brought to mind something that strikes me frequently about young people.

My granddaughter, then 5, asked, “How does Santa know if everybody in the house is sleeping?”

“Well, he’s magic,” her mom theorized.

“No,” Chloe mused, “I think he’s got an app for that.”

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that kindergartners are so blasé about apps. If you can accept the concept of Santa, it’s not such a stretch to think folks in Cupertino, Ca., can design a way to let him know if you are sleeping.

Aside from an amusing memory of my grandchildren (whom friends will tell you I kind of like), the tale illustrates that technology more than ever before caused generations to live in vastly different worlds. When Chloe’s father was a kid, one of the few parenting rules I imposed on myself was to never start a sentence with, “When I was your age…”

We might as well say, “Well, on the far side of the moon,” or, “If we were aardvarks…” The world he grew up in bore no resemblance to the America of my youth or to the world his five children take for granted today.

When I was that age, there were 48 states and three TV networks. Not only was your phone anchored to the wall, your number started with PLaza or OXford, followed by five numerals. Sometimes, someone who shared your “party line” would be on it when you tried to make a call.

And we all had little vaccination marks on our shoulders. Nobody accused Dr. Jonas Salk of trying to deprive us of our civil liberties or demanded that President Eisenhower and his family publicly take the shots.

Of course, a lot of things were wrong and we’re still trying to get recovered. Things like segregation, legal and accepted discrimination against women, fear of gay people, plundering the environment — and, of course, that whole Red Scare thing that marked politics of the post-war era.

But those things weren’t caused by lack of technological gadgets.

Not that I’m complaining. Science and technology advances are as beneficial as they are inevitable. Nobody wishes to go back to the good old days (although I’d like to have my first job again at a Phillips 66 station in Miami, asking customers if they wanted the regular gas at 19 cents a gallon or premium for 23 cents.)

Kids today wouldn’t believe such prices — or that filling stations employed people to pump it for you.

What continues to surprise me is the ease with which young people not only know about modern marvels, but how casually they accept it in their daily lives — like my granddaughter when she was 5, seeing nothing remarkable about Santa’s app. It was not only the easiest thing to imagine, an app was the first explanation that made sense to today’s kids.

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The first time I noticed kids casually accepting things that completely blew me away was over 50 years ago, when the Apollo missions put astronauts to the moon. I ran out and bought Life, Look and other big-picture magazines that are long gone now. I marveled at the photos but my nieces and nephews, in elementary school at the time, just gave it all a polite glance and shrugged.

Yeah, it’s a moon rocket. It went to the moon. What did I expect it to do?

I’m not among those grumpy old guys who think everything was better back in our day. It was different, not better. Reporters today are not only more educated and (with worrisome gaps) better informed about the world, they have tools for finding out things that would have taken us several news cycles to learn.

And I’m not a complete Luddite technologically.

I’ve got a gadget not much bigger than a cigarette pack in my pocket. It makes phone calls, sends messages, gives me street directions, and takes photos — and that’s all I use it for, not nearly all it is capable of doing. My little grandchildren have slates for playing games and learning.

What impresses me about it is, they’re so unimpressed by it.

Bill Cotterell is a retired Tallahassee Democrat capitol reporter who writes a twice-weekly column. He can be reached at [email protected]

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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Silicon Valley’s miracles plant great expectations in younger minds | Bill Cotterell

Source: https://news.yahoo.com/techno-miracles-don-t-impress-110332316.html