This weekend I was working a day shift and had the priviledge of interacting with two elderly couples over noon hour. I introduced myself, just as any average server would, explaining I would be taking care of them for the next few hours. As I gradually got to know them and their journeys, not once did I mention this was only my part-time job or that I was currently an Education student about to complete my degree. The couples continued on with their visit together, catching up with what they are keeping busy with and where each of their children are living, then I happened to catch a bit of their conversation. One of the ladies mentioned her granddaughter is in Grade 8, doing really well in school, but her penmanship was immature and she couldn’t spit out a multiplication problem off the top of her head without typing it into the calculator on her phone first. Her friend’s husband spoke up with both support and contradiction, explaining he had noticed the exact same ‘weaknesses‘ in his grandchild, yet is amazed every time his grandson introduces him to the new technology he has learned (whether it be a new app or video game). I felt bad eavesdropping, but this conversation was so intriguing to me that I moved a little closer. Shaking his head, the other gentleman made the comment, “could you imagine if the last battery on earth died? Our society would be in ruins”. I truly wanted to interject here, but I didn’t feel it was my place as they all had valid points. In their youth, they were raised with next to no technology, only access to electricity in most cases, and they made their living by working hard, often outside, under unpleasant circumstances. The couples began reminiscing about these aspects in their life, how they would never get away with being glued to a silly cellphone all day long, how children are often handed these gadgets and gizmos just because they can be, and mentioned how concerned they are with the fact that if technology was removed from our hands we would be hopeless.
This experience has left me feeling torn. Do I respect and understand their thoughts? Absolutely. But the four of them specifically were not raised in a world of this access to technology. They made do with what was offered to them and probably didn’t think twice about it at the time. As far as I’m concerned, that’s exactly what the case is today with our youth. This is the generation, era, and experience that they have grown up being exposed to. To them, having this access is ‘normal’ and they probably do not think twice about it either. But to decide whether or not this is a deterrence in our every days lives I am not sure I agree with.