Technological Jealousy: A Dad’s Lament

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On several occasions recently, my six-year-old has had me film him doing something fascinating like drumming on couch cushions, scaring his sister, or hitting golf balls in the yard so we could upload the video to YouTube and watch it back on our TV.

I can’t blame him. I can only imagine how I would have reacted to such technology had it existed when I was a kid. My mind would have been completely blown. My parents barely had a functional video camera of any kind and certainly not one you could play back on a TV in a matter of minutes.

When I was a kid, my family made road trips a couple times per year from our home in Florida to our grandparents’ homes in North Carolina. Often, these day-long drives, which seemed interminable because the speed limit on the interstates was an outrageous fifty-five miles per hour, happened on weekends when there were sports on television that we could have been watching. There was no internet to check scores, of course, and there certainly weren’t freaking telephones that can stream any sporting event live, in full color, and high definition (whatever that is!) at the touch of a screen. All we had was AM radio. We lived in constant fear of driving out of a station’s coverage range at a key moment.

What a world.

Needless to say, we were very excited when my older brother got a black and white TV with a pull-out antenna and a screen that was like four inches wide. If you held it at the correct angle, jiggled the antenna just so, and, when the signal came in for a split second, stopped the car and never moved again, you could just make out, through the static and wavy lines, the fuzzy shadows of what might have been football players. It was pure magic.

My kids will never know such exhilaration. Not that they will ever care about watching sports, but just imagine how much more satisfying it would be to watch guys with headsets yelling “OHHHH!!!” while building forts on their computers if they had to work for those YouTube videos just a little harder.

Who am I kidding? Yes, I am super jealous of my children’s access to today’s technology. But, I guess that’s the way most parents have felt throughout time. And on the plus side, while I did miss the final round of The Masters that one year while we were on the road, at least my generation wasn’t the last to miss out on running water or indoor plumbing or something. I guess we’ll call it even.

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