Sunday, February 3, 2013

i Phone U

It struck me yesterday that the world is passing the younger generation by, and they think they’re fully connected. I was at the town talent show, serving as house manager. That meant I didn’t get to see the whole of the show, but stayed outside to keep the door from slamming and keep the folks who needed to get in and out in and out safely. I was blown away by the fact that so many people couldn’t stay for the whole show. Some left as sourpusses – I came to see my kid, so why should I donate anything to the program? A few left in great hurry. One woman dashed out of the auditorium and off to the gym. One child in one program and another in a second? I don’t know and couldn’t say.

Late in the program Denise Peterson came out to check on the cash. She was followed by her daughter who came out of the live performance and into the hallway to plug in her iPhone. Couldn’t wait until she got home, had to charge before so that she could, I guess, text – facebook – foursquare – instagram or whatever during the ten minutes from the Middle School to home.

Then two of the High School performers, hanging in the hallway with one other high school girls, was encouraged to go backstage to take a final bow. It was difficult to get them to go, but they finally did agree to go. My assignment was to capture and hold a particular boy of interest to the three girls. He was a ginger, they told me – so that made him easy to spot – and he had promised to be here in just a few minutes. The girls were interested in this boy. Did I mention that? I don’t know what the interest was, but they were interested in him in the way that High School girls can be interested in High School Boys.

He arrived. I had him sit and wait. Two of the three girls arrived and gushed.

And then they checked messages on the phone. They checked messages on the phone!

I get this in class. I joke about it with class members. “You’re the best connected generation with the least to say,” I regularly tell my introductory classes. But this was different and maybe that’s what struck me. The texting and facebooking and whatever was going on at every moment when a child or young adult might have to either be bored or engage in thought, reflection or day dreaming.

I wonder if we’re about to have a generation that will know nature as a digital photograph and vacation as a video file, and human relations as interchanges on an iPhone.