Sunday, 28 July 2013

Feeling all at sea

I'm sat here this morning gazing out to sea. The water is calm. Just gently lapping the shore. Two boats have left port and are making the hourly ferry crossing over to Scotland. The sun is breaking through the misty cloud cover on the horizon. Seagulls occasionally glide by the window. The tide is out. But soon enough it will turn towards us. 

The peace is broken by two little girls sat next to me, tablets in hand playing a dressing up game. Bleep, bleep, bleep.

Yesterday we took delivery of two devices that have already changed my daughters' lives. Dennis the Menace is now instantly available. In-built video cameras at the ready for impromptu film making. And trivia apps on hand to hone their crossword solving skills for the years ahead.

The on demand, constantly connected, generation is here. 

Don't worry I'm fully aware of the irony.

Here I am glued to my phone. Uploading pics to Instagram. Sharing some of those on Facebook and Twitter. Happily disturbed by an incoming email. Even resorting to checking Google+ when I'm really bored.

And blogging as and when I feel the need to while away an hour or so by delving into my inner thoughts.

So how should we balance the benefits of technology with the slippery slope of constant distraction?

I've read somewhere that some families have a technology hour. Not distinguishing between devices. Watch TV or surf the Web. Make a short film or play a game.

Rationing consumption in a vain attempt to hold back the tide. The tsunami of the digital age ready to gobble us all up and sweep us out into the ocean.

I feel all at sea to stretch the analogy a little further.

Perhaps it's the book I'm reading, The Paradox of Choice. Having lived through the eighties and nineties where we wanted more and more. Then through the noughties when we more or less got it all. And now in the 2011-2020 decade (what do we call it btw? The teenies?) we seem to be facing a real dilemma.

On the one hand less is becoming more. Curated choices out-trumping never ending options. The slow news movement fighting back against instant updates and citizen journalism.

Yet with everything available at the swipe of a smartphone, the natural equilibrium is still to resolve itself.

As the world hurtles towards another billion of its inhabitants going online I wonder what life will be like ten years from now.

A decade ago when we got married our wedding video was just that. A VHS video. The photos shot on film. 35mm negatives stored in a shoebox.

It seems almost incomprehensible now to think that the digital age is still so relatively young.

What will my 17 year old daughter reflect on in 2023. Will she remember her first ever tablet? God forbid if the screens by then are embedded in our eyes. The pages swiped by thoughts in our brains. Or will we settle back to a not too distant place near to where we are now?

Mobile phones spent years getting smaller only for them to increase in size.

The world has spent years speeding up only for it to need to slow down perhaps.

Or maybe I'm just showing my age. As I approach my 39th  birthday maybe I'm expressing the first signs of denial.

The tide has turned.

And no amount of wishing otherwise will halt its progress.

The waves are crashing towards me. As I close my eyes the sound is calming and comforting.

The gentle morning sun warming on my face.

And the girls have moved on. Devices abondoned. Now they are welly boot clad and are exploring the beach with wonder.

Maybe everything will work out just fine after all.

1 comment:

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