By the time we met…the times had already changed – Arcade Fire, We Used To Wait
My daughter Sadie spent a few precious minutes (as long as she ever sits still) on the lap of her great grandfather recently. They shared their love of the natural world looking at the bright orange Oriole and the vibrant Indigo Bunting, and whenever she saved a bug from the pool she proudly brought it to him. He beamed.
My other great grandfather, my dad’s dad, (whose name was Gage but we called him Charles) died before Mason was born. And I came to wonder what would happen if Mason sat on his lap with our iPad. Once he got past the magic of the touch screen, I think he would find the real magic in the language of action that technology has given us.
“Favourite” is a verb to my kids. “Mason, can you favourite this video?” asks Sadie when it’s not her turn. “Favourite” is an action.
“Follow” is also active. In my grandfather’s mind, a follower would likely just be someone other than the leader. But following in our language now is half of a relationship. An active, engaging relationship based on mutual interest and an ongoing conversation that happens when you want, where you want.
If Mason talked about his apps, or something viral, Charles would likely would think he was contagious.
As a man who raised four energetic boys, I think my grandfather would plug in to our language of action, and the technology of interaction.
Mason is a digital native – he never knew a world without an infinite amount of information at his fingertips. Would my grandfather have the same struggles with what I am calling “digital imperialist parenting”? Just as history has shown us empires that insist they know better than the indigenous peoples – do I know more about technology than Mason just because I am his mummy?
After about half an hour of tv/iPad/computer my internal alarm goes off and I think “you need to get outside and run around”. But when what the kids are engaging with is actually expanding their horizons, does it make sense to unplug?
So Google Earth is OK but YouTube parodies about poop and farts aren’t?
After I put the kids to bed last night, I revisited this site done by Arcade Fire: www.thewildernessdowntown.com
And I imagined Charles sitting with Mason on his lap, watching Mason enter our address. They would share a few precious minutes together, and Charles would point out where they play ball hockey together on our driveway, and where they hold hands when they cross the street on the way home from school.
Our language changes us. And we change our language. But love and action (and interaction) endure.