Saturday, March 5, 2011

Re: The Dance That I Like to Call...The Technology Shuffle

As I sit here blow drying my daughter’s iPod that has suffered the cruel fate of being rendered helpless by virtue of an exploded soda lurking in the deepest recesses of her purse, I wonder if technology has made my life simple at all.

I’ll grant you the iPod’s status as a nifty little compact gadget offering relative ease in accessing my favorite tunes in thematically-arranged playlists. It’s just the sheer volume of negatives often outweigh the positives, what with the expense, the post-warranty malfunctions and the obliteration of even the illusion that your child is listening to you.

In fact, with regard to the latter, my adolescent has taken to loudly proclaiming, “I can’t hear you!” in a matter-of-fact way, as she adjusts her music to a decibel level which sets me to howling more frequently than a Doberman living next door to a fire station.Lest you think my subscription to Old Fogey Times is a given, I do realize our generation took quite a bit of heat from our own parents because we blasted our loud music on low-quality amplification systems. “Turn down that music,” usually preceded every request our parents made. “Turn down that music – Come and eat!”; “Turn down that music – Did you brush your teeth?”; “Turn down that music – Why is your principal calling me?” You get the idea.
It’s irony at its best, really.We had headphones, the kind encapsulating your noggin like an astronaut helmet, and while this probably didn’t do much for our inner ear labyrinths, we didn’t insert a Secret Service-looking implant directly into our cochlea and then detonate the music. (You can see my most recent waiting room magazine article reading of, The Ear and You," is really paying off with my acquisition of auditory terms like “cochlea” and “labyrinth.”)
Our kids are multitasking extraordinaires and the technology supports it with a vengeance. The challenge comes in whev n we realize we’re supposed to keep them motivated, healthy and focused, while also traveling on the straight and narrow in the face of iPods, iPhones and iCantHearYou. I can only imagine what’s next on the “you’ll-never-have-disposable-income” purchasing horizon.

As we undertake this “Mission Impossible” of parenting with the backdrop of technology waaaaayyyy more interesting than we are, we’re forced to deal with not just the iPod, but also…duhn, duhn, duhn…the cell phone.

The fact that Generation Y-ME?! grasped their first cell phone the same year they were grasping pencils when practicing cursive on those big solid lines with the dotted mid-range border explains why they have mad dexterity skills. Parents embraced the ease of cellular convenience because we were tired of waiting in the wrong parking lot, on the wrong day, at the wrong time. Why not give our offspring something to make OUR lives easier?

You’ll get a resounding, “Don’t be ridiculous!” answer fairly fast if you act upon the bright idea to remove the cellular device from your child’s claw-like grip as punishment for her cellular transgressions.

Tell yourself anything you want: it’s good for the youngster, it’s time to get back to basics, eye contact and environmental contact is necessary. Helpfully point out to your progeny, “It won’t kill you to take a break for one day,” all while she whines piteously to “chopped liver” you, “But I won’t be able to talk to anyone all day!”

It’ll still take only about a nanosecond for the pathetic to turn into the demonic as the spawn of your loins morphs into a creature even Dr. Frankenstein could not have dreamed up. You may not see sprouting neck bolts, but steam-emitting nostrils are common, she’ll be so ticked off.

Fast forward to the end of the first day when I righteously confiscated my daughter’s cell phone. (Okay, after I’d had the chance to savor the smug satisfaction which was rightfully mine. I knew I’d “helped” her understand the meaning of self-reliance without requiring the reading of one word of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s prolific writings on the subject.)
There was only one problem. I wasn’t sure what time I was supposed to pick up my daughter from basketball practice and I had oh-so-brilliantly removed my only way to get the necessary clarification – the cell phone!

I know the distinction I'm drawing between the newfangled gizmos we warred over with our parents and these artifacts of technological advancement our children enjoy is small. All right, let's be honest, it's minuscule.
The bottom line on technology is the bottom line on just about anything holding the promise of added convenience: Just because something can make things easier, doesn’t mean it does.


  1. Such a great post! Oh my! I'm sorry to hear about the Ipod disaster. I hope it still works. :(

    I'll be back to read more. Hope the Ipod thing goes well.


  2. Thanks so much for the post Kendra! Unfortunately, the Ipod is now in the appropriate "technology kaput" landfill and we're looking at Ipod shuffles...less painful when they bite the dust. :-)