By Ms. Doyle
One of my favorite songs starts out with the following line, “Grandpa tell me about the good ol’ days. Sometimes it feels like this world’s gone crazy.” Boy are they right. And, before you start thinking I’m crazy, let me ask you a question — when was the last time you unplugged from life?
Now, I’m not asking you if you unplugged Great Aunt Betty’s life support while she was in the hospital. It’s much simpler than that. When was the last time you unplugged from all of the technology that runs our lives? Cellphones, smart watches, tablets and laptops are everywhere. They tell us where we’re going, where we are right now, and even keep track of where we’ve been on the internet and on the road. They even let us know what we’re doing next Tuesday at noon, all because it’s programmed into whatever device you’re using.
Back in my grandmother’s days, they used a calendar and a personal address book to keep track of these things. Now, we just look at our watch and tell it to call our kids for us. That’s right — I said watch. We’re making phone calls through our watches now. You know what I need my watch to do?
Tell the time.
That’s it. I don’t want it to call my kids or my husband. I guess it’s not the end of the world if I can stream my music through it with some bluetooth earbuds so I don’t have to go walking with my phone, but at the end of the day, I’m one of those people that wants a watch to be just that — a watch.
Ultimately, the point I’m trying to make here is that I feel like society has gotten wrapped up in the shiny new things that technology brings. They forget that there’s a world out there to experience beyond their television screen. What’s worse, now they’re handing tablets to toddlers to keep them occupied. Growing up, I looked out of the window while we were riding in the car for entertainment. And, although you don’t know me, I can tell you that simple task did a world of wonders for me. It forced my imagination to amuse me. I studied the clouds and tried to figure out what shapes they looked like. I watched my neighbor trip over his dog in the front yard and laughed at him. Basically, I took in everything that was around me and appreciated it a little more.
It’s amazing what you can see if you just unplug from technology for a few hours or even a whole day. Even to this day, I can close my eyes and remember what it was like to watch the sunrise with my grandfather. I think about how the wind felt on my face while I was at the beach with my grandmother. I remember what it felt like to take my first ride on a horse through the woods on my aunt’s property, or the time my grandfather took me out into his friend’s farming fields and let me pick my own cotton. I had that piece of cotton for years before I foolishly threw it away. Now, I would give anything to have it back. It’s a piece of my past that was beautiful, and nothing can compare to that.
I’ve picked corn, snapped peas and collected eggs. I would help feed the chickens at my grandparents’ house or help them in the garden. Not that I was great help, but even a kid can carry a bucket of tomatoes across the yard and up the steps into the kitchen. Or, I would pick blueberries off the bush. I did a dozen little things that most kids these days can’t say they’ve ever done.
I know what it’s like to go to a pond and fish — even if I loathe fishing to this day. It’s not for everyone people, so try not to judge me. My point is this: in dozens of memories, I can remember being outside, surrounded by nature, and enjoying life, even if fishing is boring and those chickens I tried to feed chased me out of the pen. There was nothing digital about those experiences, nothing artificial. It was 100 percent real, and even when things didn’t go my way, they taught me valuable life lessons, like the fact that chickens are the spawn of the devil.
I’m kidding; I promise. However, let’s just say I don’t feel any guilt when I eat eggs or fried chicken.
Anyways, I look at my kids these days and cringe because I don’t see that for them. Part of that is my fault. I should have pushed harder for them to go outside and play, instead of watching tv. And my husband and I didn’t own a farm or land where we could have animals. So, the only experiences I could give them with farm animals was when I took them to a petting zoo or the