I have been peppering this blog with a number of rather serious minded posts and I feel bad about that. I run the risk of establishing a reputation as something more than an idiot. And then, people start expecting things. I can't have that. In that vein, I would like to return to a musing about a sociological ill that, on the surface looks ridiculous, but when you think about it, you begin to realize how astute and accurate it is, and then you think about it more and decide that, no, that's just stupid.
We are teaching our kids to read too much.
Look, I like reading. Some of my best friends are words. Many, in fact. Not many of my friends, but the word "many." I like that word. It isn't quite "all" but it is more than "some" and doesn't demand the statistical exactitude of "half" or even "most." Anyway, I find that my kids are spending huge amounts of time looking at their phones and reading texts, articles, comments and fan fiction. Not blog posts, though. Why is that?
When I was a boy, I learned to pay attention to the world around me. I kept my head up and I really tried to focus on everything going on. I learned to anticipate behaviors by watching people and accounting for the myriad variables. I developed not only good eyesight, but a good memory for what I saw. And I learned to turn on and off my more acute hearing so I could focus on the added dimension of sound. Now, I see my kids walking through traffic with their eyes glued to a mini screen of some sort. They don't hear when someone is talking to them and they have no clue as to what the world has to offer.
This becomes even more problematic when we get to the topic of driving. I love to drive. Driving is a constant chess match, except that the chess pieces weigh thousands of pounds and they are always all moving and rearranging themselves. But good driving requires intense focus and the mental gymnastics of balancing which car is where and when and how is its driver behaving. Defensive driving is all about guessing what someone else is going to do not only before he does it, but before he even knows he is going to do it. So when I drive with a child in the car, I ask said child to watch the road. To pick up on the subtleties which abound on the open road. Instead, the kids keep staring at their phones. It is great that they are interacting with others and with the written word (and with the snapchats which all demand, by law, that one makes duck lips, stick his or her tongue out or do something else dumb looking) but I want them to be prepared as drivers. Our adult population is already plagued by the distraction of texting and emailing while driving and we have all come to the technological party relatively recently. The next generation of drivers will be so used to texting constantly that they won't know how to drive well. They won't be able to separate themselves from the online experience.
So what's the solution. One person out there is probably smirking and saying "yes, but the wave of the future will be cars that drive themselves." Wow, how insightful of you. Yes driverless cars might very well be the next big thing, but if you are stuck at that level of thinking then you aren't seeing the big picture. What company is at the forefront of the driverless car wave?
Google. The same company that is working to enslave our children's eyes with phones and web content. See? They make the problem, then invent the solution and get us to buy their product at either end! They make us dependent on the crutch of social interaction and then invent google glass so we never have to be without it.
It is nefarious -- a word which the young people will have to look up in their online dictionaries.