Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"Where Are You?"

When my kids call my cell phone, the first thing they ask after I answer is invariably, "Where are you?" It's not that they want to know where I literally am at that moment. Instead, it's become a sort of cell phone greeting, meaning "So, I reached you... cool... what's up?" Given the mobile medium, it's a perfectly reasonable thing to ask and it's become a staple of the age of mobile electronic communication.

I reminded my kids that it hasn't always been this way. When I was their age, it would have been seen as completely nonsensical to ask "Where are you?" to anyone you had called. There's only one place that person could be -- the room in which they answered the phone that was plugged into the wall! Duh!

They laughed uproariously about that notion, as for them it was as odd and archaic as smoke signals or Morse code! How did anyone get things done?, they wondered. How could you ever leave your house, if that's where your phone was? How could you have true friendships if you had to wait to communicate with them until they were at home? And how did people meet up?

"We PLANNED those things," I told them.

And that's when the uproarious laughter ensued.

"Planned? You planned where and when you'd meet?"

"Yup," I answered. "Sometimes hours or days or even weeks ahead of time."

By this time they were practically on the floor. Inconceivable!

In a time when people speak in generalities ("meet you in Seattle") until the moment of connection ("I'm on 4th and Pine. See you in a sec"), the notion of planning must be an odd one. I can't help but wonder whether this mindset of immediacy has influenced way more than just planning vs impulsiveness in this generation. I believe that it's also why kids wait until the last minute to complete assignments and why they generally live by the seat of their pants.

I'm also concerned that, when it comes right down to it, young people might not turn out at voting booths in the numbers we've heard about. Because you know, that would take planning and setting aside time for a particular task, and this instant gratification generation simply isn't used to that.

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6 comments:

Juanita said...

Having them sign up for absentee ballots might help get them to vote.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I think it's also wreaking havoc with social lives, because for the kids who are shyer, the whole call spontaneously thing never happens. So they sit at home. I know tons of kids who do this. It's sad.

debawriter said...

I completely agree with your post.

Meanwhile, I amuse myself by imagining what will be cell phones' replacement in 10 years, when my kids are teen-agers.

Deb
sandiegomomma.com

Tense Teacher said...

Wow, great observation regarding kids' immediacy and impulsiveness spilling over into the classroom.

kim-d said...

About the voting thing, I think they're going to do it, and I think they ARE going to do it in record numbers. What I think won't work anymore is the early predictions of "The Winner." Because all of these kids are gonna come hustling in at the very last minute and totally throw off those early numbers :)! The year I turned 18 was an election year; that was the highlight of my year, voting. Even more than the fact that the drinking age was also 18 at that time. I have definitely learned from "the kids" when it comes to the flying by the seat of the pants and being more spur of the moment versus having every moment planned. I found that, so many times, I had planned something months in advance and when the time came to do it, I just plain did not want to! So sometimes spur of the moment can be a good thing. However, there are some times like, say, at work--where you have to be mature enough to do the deadline thing, and I hope that's something that can be learned. Either that, or all of those spur-of-the-moment kids need to be in charge...hehehe!

Wow, Carol...did not realize I had so much to say! Have a great weekend!

Lynda said...

We have had this conversation in our house too - usually when it is 8pm on a Friday night and 'they' are still trying to work out 'where' they are going, 'who' they are going with, 'what' time they are meeting. Around this stage The Darling Husband and I will chip in with 'when we were your age we arranged our next meet up at the end of the last one and it stayed like that.. no mobile phone, no MSN, no SMS's, nothing. And this is when they start to glaze over... 'when we were your age we didn't even have a phone at home and if we did we weren't allowed to use it...."

LOL never thought about the voting scenario...

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