TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Are Young People Being Shortchanged?

I was watching a Facebook video showing a young man walking into a street pole; a young man falling into a pool; a young lady smashing into a glass door; a young man stepping in front of a moving car; and a young lady falling flat on her face after missing a step.

These people all had one thing in common: They were all looking at their cell phones and not where they were going. It’s even worse when they do the same thing while driving. That’s how accidents and sometimes death occurs.

Just look around at family gatherings, in town, at sporting events, at the lake. …  Young people simply can’t put down their phones and enjoy the real world. While I do have a cell phone, a computer and a tablet, I don’t live on them (at least, if you don’t count Facebook). I have to admit I’m beginning to resent those personal machines and how their owners use them.

I have a hard time watching this younger electronic generation marching to the beat of their electronic drummer. To be sure, given the murders of students in this country, our young people are doing what the adults up to now have not dared to do. They want the carnage to stop, and they are organizing to do just that. The courage of this new generation is not in question.

But I just wish there was a way to let them know what they are missing … without going through my own youth, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

We had our electronic messages also. When the streetlights came on, we knew it was time to head for home. If the streetlights didn’t get your attention, then your porch light came on and you knew to head for home to avoid a grounding.

Daylight Saving Time would have created mayhem back in those days. Thankfully, it didn’t yet exist.

Back in my day, we knew entire neighborhoods — including everyone’s name and occupation. We knew the owners of the neighborhood grocery stores where our parents sent us to pick up whatever our moms wanted. We knew the names of the neighborhood bus drivers, the milkmen and our mailmen. In other words, we were connected to our surroundings personally, not through impersonal electronic media.

We organized neighborhood park activities. Most of us had our own disorganized softball, touch-ball, flag ball, baseball, basketball and hockey teams. The park boards slowly but surely caught up with us and came to organize the same things — but that was never the same as when we picked our own teams. By the way, never did we ever leave out someone because they weren’t talented. None of us were talented! That worked just fine.

In our neighborhoods, bullies weren’t tolerated. We all had older brothers and sisters. If someone gave us crap, they only did it once. Our siblings didn’t have to hit anyone. They simply explained the pain the bully would feel if they didn’t back off.

Kenny Hunt, a classmate of my older brother, went on to play for the New York Yankees. My eldest sister could throw a softball just as far as Kenny. (But if I use her name, she’ll scalp me.)

I guess the point I’m trying to recommend that young people take a timeout from their electronics. Use your phone when you need to, not just when you have nothing better to do. See the world and the environment around you as it is — not in a fog as you live instead in your electronic world.

There are so many thing to see, so much to do, so many friends to cultivate in this world of ours. It all works better in person than through a colored screen.

I wouldn’t trade my childhood for that of kids today for anything. But,then, I’ll be 79 on April 4, so some won’t care. By the way, if you want to make me happy, send cash April 4. Amen.

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