By that, I mean we weren’t as connected. We didn’t have a constant connection to the people we love. No cell phones, no computers, no email. We barely had cordless phones way back in 1986.
My parents sent me off to college — which was just an hour or so away — and they didn’t hear from me unless I called home… on a pay phone down the hallway from my room.
(For those who don’t know, i.e., teens, preteens, etc., a pay phone is one of those devices you see on the street corners in older films. You put a quarter in the slot and dial the phone, for a local call, that is. For long distance, you have to go through an operator and call collect. An operator is a person who talks back when you speak. Let’s say, an interactive human being.)
Anyway — I would call my parents a couple of times a week, and in between those calls, they didn’t have a clue what I was doing. (That’s probably a good thing, and I can say that because my parents don’t read my blog.)
Fast forward to today.
My son who was just dropped in the middle of New York City for college video-chatted with us.
(For those of you who don’t know, i.e., senior citizens and those lacking computer savviness, a video chat is a real-time video call that can take place on your computer, smartphone or tablet. It’s being able to sit down and have a face-to-face discussion with someone hundreds or thousands of miles away — and even in the next room. Just like the Jetsons did.)
We’ve been lucky enough to keep in contact through text messages on our phones, and he has been able to follow what his friends are doing through Facebook. We get a glimpse into his moods and thoughts through Twitter.
This is a completely different college experience than the one I had. If Zach gets lonely for home, all he has to do is video chat with us. If we need to get a message to him or remind him to do something — or if he needs money — we simply exchange text messages.
I’m sure this has its positive and negative attributes.
One could say it prevents Zach from being thrust into the world to fend for himself. Or, it gives us peace of mind in a world that seems more dangerous and corrupt than when I was a young adult.
Whether you agree or don’t, I am glad this technology has helped us keep in touch as we launched our children into the world.
I’m equally happy that it didn’t exist when I went off to college. I may have had a difficult time explaining myself to my parents if it had.
Maybe there’s some truth and wisdom in the adage, “Ignorance is bliss.”
But with my kids, I’ll take my chances.