Friday, October 21, 2011

My Life as an Antenna

When I was a kid, we literally got a handful of television channels, over the air.  The reception was terrible, and my brother and I would lie on the floor with our feet touching the television to act as antenna to improve the signal.  We watched whatever was shown.  We actually believed the commercials.

Today, I get hundreds of channels, much more than I want, from a satellite in space.  If I'm not available to watch a show, I can record it, digitally and fast forward through the commercials, though my wife often has to remind me to do so.  I can even watch shows while away from home, anytime, via a series of tubes known as the Internets.  It does not even require me to touch it and act as an antenna.  As a result of these advances, my 5-year old daughter does not comprehend the concept of live television.  Doesn't even register.

She thinks she can play any content from any device, but I once put my mom's music on a tree.  One day, my brother and I hung my mom's Neil Diamond albums on the branches of the tree in the back yard.  We walked upstairs to our bedroom window and using his BB gun, we held target practice.  All while Bubs was in the kitchen, watching.  Proud moment in our childhood, really.  We had maybe 2 dozen albums.  Billy Joel.  Aerosmith.  David Bowie.  George Carlin.  The White Album with coffee rings on it, so it was not exactly white.

I have a lot of music today.  My iPhone holds a fraction of my collection, which still amounts to thousands of songs.  I can play them on almost any device, except the tree, and even send the music through the air to my television or my computer to play back.  I can play them in any order, and often times, my daughter would like to hear the same song over and over and over.  Devices can do this automatically, much to my dismay.

As many parents, we often reminisce about the way things were, and talk about "if our kids only knew".  Personally, I'm glad my kids aren't shooting my iPhone with a gun, while it hangs on a tree in the back yard.  They will make their own mischief, I am sure, but I actually worry more that with all the play dates and additional structure, they can't get into enough trouble to learn better.  I guess I'm not worried that new technology is a barrier to our kids growing up normally.

My grandmother, before she passed, was notorious for 15 second phone calls.  We learned not to take it personally.  I'm sure it was a remnant from when making any phone call was expensive.  Life moves on.  Our kids will adapt, just fine, thank you.  The question is, will we?

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