I’ve already documented here in Part 1, my belief that kids today have it easy. I never wanted to be that grumpy old bastard who whines endlessly about walking twenty-five miles to school every day, barefoot, uphill, in the snow, both ways, etc., it just sort of happened. In fact, when I first moved in with Kelly and HRH last year, that attitude fostered itself at the accelerated speed of light it seems. I just morphed into that ‘guy’.
Both girls rely heavily on technology, or things that would otherwise deem themselves as ‘unessential’s’ in my simple no frills world. Of course, Kelly is not so bad and is definitely more self-reliant being an adult having lived through the Dark Ages known as the 1970’s and 1980’s, but HRH, well, let’s just say she has all the hardened resolve of pudding skin, as you might expect from a product of this entitled, new-fangled gadget obsessed generation. Here’s the proof in the pudding skin, so to speak:
1. We did not have iPods, iPads, E-Readers, cell phones or digital doo-dads or gee-gaws of any kind so “alone time” really meant just that: Alone. Scary concept, I know. You weren’t automatically connected to the world around you 24/7. Now, should the batteries on HRH’s iPod ever run out there’s inevitably a meltdown of Biblical proportion. We did not have email, texting capabilities or chat rooms either. We had something called a “Post Office” which required you to actually hand write a paper letter with a writing implement of some sort, walk across town to purchase a stamp, then back to the other side of town to drop it in a mail box (the non-digital kind) before waiting the pre-requisite three months to get a reply.
2. Whether through written or verbal word, we were encouraged to express ourselves; in fact, we had to! It meant we actually had to conjugate vowels and consonants in order to formulate ‘words’ in a meaningful way as to convey simple messages and ideas. We did not have emoticons or smilicons to express ourselves which did not always make us all ‘semicolon capital D’, but we did it regardless.
3. We had video games but they were extremely lame. We did not have PS3’s, X-Box’s, or whatever, we had Atari’s, ColecoVision, and other stupid sounding gaming systems that required both an electrician’s certificate and about 3 miles of cable to hook up to our dinosaur era televisions. We did not have ‘Call of Duty’, ‘Grand Theft Auto’, or anything with groovy interactive 3D graphics; we had ‘Asteroids’, ‘Space Invaders’ and ‘Donkey Kong’. Basically, the whole game was comprised of a single screen being played over and over and over again, except that they got faster and harder until you either gave up or died. Usually, you were staring at a simple geographic shape on a black screen until your retinas burned out or you were lured into a coma. Likewise, there was no way of cheating the game with some ‘secret code’ with which you could input for special powers or infinite lives, no, you had three cracks at the bat before you were done like dinner. We did not have convenient touch pads or lightweight motion control hand sensors either, we had to use clunky, huge ass control panels which was the equivalent of receiving a full body weights workout just to play a simple 30 second game.
4. What computer we did have needed an entire room just to house the mainframe. There were no hand held palm pilots, or mini personal computers. Our computer had girth. However, they were relatively easy to use and required only a basic ‘ON/OFF’ button, so we did not need to reset security passwords or have to memorize special security questions just to access our shit. Nobody cared. Just flip the ‘ON’ button and go to work. Now, your password must contain an upper case, a number, a gang sign, a haiku, a hieroglyph and the blood of a virgin just to access your email account. Oh, and you’ll inevitably have to reset that shit next week as well. So, maybe, we had it a bit easier in this regard.
5. Similarly, we had no Internet and, therefore, no Google or other such search engines. We actually had to figure shit out for ourselves. To do this, we had a place called a “library” where you could look shit up in a “card catalogue” and then go find the desired “book” on the shelves to read. Crazy, right?
6. As far as music goes, we had no Napster, iTunes, or free pirate downloading sites. We had to actually “steal” our music the old fashioned way and risk being returned home to our parents by the mall security. Or, we had to sit in front of the radio with our fingers poised over the record button on our cassette decks hoping for the right song to come next. Inevitably, we either missed the beginning of the song or the DJ would talk through half of it and fuck it all up anyway.
7. Oh, we never had digitized music either. We had cassette tapes that we played over and over again ad nauseum until they inevitably spit out of the cassette deck one day in ribbons. Then we could either attempt to rewind them with a pencil or we had to go out and spend our allowance (if you were so fortunate to have one) and buy another one. If not, see no. 5 above.
8. We had no DVR, so you inevitably missed shit. Later we had VCR’s that we could program to turn on at certain times if you were out, providing you remembered to have your television already set to the proper channel, which, we could never seem to remember to do. Unfortunately, you practically needed a NASA degree in programming to figure out how to accomplish any of this. Now, you can simply scroll through the TV Guide channel and push the ‘Record’ button on your remote control when something tickles your fancy…simple. Easy peasy. Oh, did I mention we never had remote controls either? No, sir. We had to actually get off our asses and walk across the room to flip the channel ourselves; channel surfing didn’t exist.
9. Furthermore, we had no dedicated Cartoon Channel, Disney Channel, or Y-TV to watch. Kids programming occurred usually on Saturday mornings only. Yes, we had to go a whole fucking week without cartoons and, even then, our parents inevitably kicked us outside half way through ‘Scooby Doo’ anyway. There was no such thing as ‘Good Luck Charlie’ marathons, not that our parents would have allowed us to stay inside all day anyway. If we wanted to watch something outside of that Saturday morning window of opportunity, it usually meant we had to bargain and plead our souls for the chance as there was also a thing known as “consequence”.
10. Here’s the real kicker: most of us had jobs! Yes, we actually worked and made very little money doing it. From the early age of eleven, I was a paper boy requiring me to carry a bag of newspapers heavier than a sack of bricks around to each house in the neighborhood rain or shine. And I’m not talking about flimsy advertising flyers either; I’m talking when an entire newspaper could be used to carpet your home. In the winter we shoveled snow from sidewalks for pocket change, or washed cars in the spring. Hey, something had to pay for our next replacement ‘Duran Duran’ cassette tape. We were not allowed to simply sit at home demanding our parent’s buy us shit whenever something we fancied appeared on a television advertisement. Child labor was perfectly acceptable and bred us with a certain work ethic which we now use to pamper our whiney, spoiled offspring with all the convenient technology available today. Heaven’s forbid they should have things like we did.
God Help Me.