Clarissa Johal: Generation X, Y, Z

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Generation X, Y, Z

There are things we do as parents that in retrospect realize were great, big mistakes. We can either suck it up and admit we messed up, or pretend we’re perfect and refuse to back-pedal. Personally, and coming from a childhood of the latter, I prefer to suck it up, admit I made a mistake, and back-pedal. Quickly.
Perhaps it’s a Spring thing, but I’ve been seriously giving some thought lately as to what we’ve invited into the house under the guise of entertainment. The Xbox, Wii, iPods, Nintendos; they’ve taken over my daughter’s brains. The Nintendos were bought with the intention of making long car trips more tolerable, the Xbox and Wii as rainy day entertainment and the iPods….well, they were Christmas gifts so I blame Santa for those. Never trust a guy who wears a red suit.
I’ve tried to be “cool mom” about all of them, really I have. I took an interest in the tiny screens of the Nintendos, pretending to actually see what was going on when in actuality it looks like a frenetic blur of colourful dots to me. I bought Wii fit games hoping to balance the fact that most of the Wii games require only your fingers and thumb to move with any intensity. And the iPod? Quite honestly, all of the applications on those things just stump me. I’m still mystified by the phenomenon of Angry Birds and just…don’t…get it. Why would I want to throw a bird at a pig? I have nothing against the pigs. And throwing the birds by slingshot? Of course that’s going to make them angry…duh.
I’ve pretended not to feel the pangs of second thoughts about all of these electronic things, I do realize that they are part of our world today. However, lately all of it has become too much of a part of my world and I feel the need to back away, fencing sword in hand, and keep some of it at bay. And after months of unsuccessfully trying to cut down on the electronic usage in our house, I finally decided on an all or nothing approach and made Sundays “electronic free days.”
My younger daughter embraced the idea whole-heartedly. Nothing makes her happier than having a conversation and spending time together. Cooking, art, gardening, house-cleaning, it’s all fun stuff if it means time with mom. But my older daughter, who is just hitting the ‘tween years and all the hormonal mess that brings, was…not…thrilled.
Perhaps my timing was off but last Sunday morning I happily greeted her with the electronic free Sunday idea. Last to wake, she had wandered down the stairs; hair disheveled and still in her PJ’s. Oddly, my "great idea" was rewarded by a single turn on her heel and the view of her backside disappearing up the stairs again. At the time, I figured she went to brush her teeth or to take a shower and get ready for our day of fun. After a half hour passed however, I went upstairs to check on her and saw that she had gone back to bed, covers tightly over her dear little, electronic free head.
I guess that meant she was not happy with the plan.
At the risk of sounding completely out of touch and well…old, I wonder about the up-and-coming generation and what we’ve done to ourselves as a society. You can’t seem to go to any event without seeing everyone plugged into something. Cell phones, palm devices, Nintendo, iPods; and there are hundreds of other devices I can’t even name. It’s kind of sad, really.
The other night my husband went out to a bachelor party. Mid-way, he couldn’t help but notice that every few minutes, the other men were pulling out their hand held devices, emailing photos of the event and texting people who apparently “needed” to know how exciting sharing a drink at the local pub was.Huh??
What ever happened to living in the moment and giving people 100% of your time? What does that do to this generation as far as their social connections and friendships? Hmmm, I’ll ponder on that for awhile before I just shake my head and move on. Or maybe I’ll text somebody about it. Just a sec while I put all of you on hold and give you half of my attention… Anyways…where was I? Oh yeah, writing in my Blog.
The generation that dominates the workforce today has been dubbed Generation Y. Wikipedia characterizes them by; “people born in the 70’s marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies.” That would be an understatement. Personally, I’m from Generation X. Born in the 1960’s we are characterized by Jane Deverson’s study in 1964 as people from a generation who; “sleep together before they are married, were not taught to believe in God as 'much', dislike the Queen, and don't respect parents.” Yeah well…I take the 5th on the first two and have no issues with the Queen, I don’t even know her. We won't even go into the parents. Why somebody felt the need to pair my age with a letter is beyond me, it’s too much like algebra. (Which would send me screaming from the room.) What happens when they run out of letters in the alphabet? Is that when the Big One wipes out humanity as we know it and we go back to Generation A again? All the Generation A cells hanging out in the primordial ooze can’t for the life of them figure out why Generation B would want to mutate into anything beyond a single-celled organism. It just invites deep thought and communication. But I digress.
So electronic-free Sundays it is and I’m hoping this experiment will invite more art and outside time now that summer is creeping up on us. My girls will emerge from their den of “high scores” and “level ups” to blink wondrously at that bright thing that hangs in the sky and creates Vitamin D. They will revel in all the green, growing stuff that litters their planet and willingly pull on their sandals to exit the house, once again mucking around in the backyard in the dirt and grass to discover what lurks there. They will tag along with me daily without complaint, walking the dogs and happily picking flowers and listening to the birds. Yep, I have high hopes.
But for today, once my older daughter decided to emerge from her cocoon of denial, I dug out the art supplies from our art closet. I figured it was a good place to start. We had paper, paints, markers, clay--every form of art supply known. I spread it all out on the table and started drawing with my younger daughter. We drew frogs, flowers, butterflies and trees. We drew silly things, pretty things, scary things; we created a world without electronics. Sheer bliss. After about an hour (and begrudgingly I might add) my older daughter picked up a pencil and plonked herself down, finally realizing that she had no other options.
“There are books too, you know. You don’t have to do art if you don’t want to.”
“I read at night time,” she grumped. Pause. “Can I read a book online?”
“Um…how about just a book from the bookshelf? I’m really trying to stay off the computers too.”
Eye roll. (I hate eye rolls, but you really have to pick your battles) “Fine.”
After her frustration died down however, I could see she was really getting into her art. And we were chatting! Not that chatting that occurs when their attention is focused elsewhere. Real chatting with complete sentences and everything.
An hour passed before she stopped drawing and sat back with a huge grin on her face. “Perfect!”
“What did you draw?”
She held up something that resembled a comic strip. “A Pokemon! This is how he starts and then he mutates into…..” and her description kind of merged with the screaming sound in my brain.
Note to self: this is the first Sunday. I will not be defeated. My fencing sword is drawn.


andiejaye said...

yay! one for team mommy! glad that you all were able to disconnect so you could reconnect with each other. it's tough with teens sometimes isn't it? :)

Alecio said...

Oh boy, you made my day with this post. Excellent. You could not be more right in everything you just wrote. I am from the 70's generation and the television dominated our lives back then. I remember the I did not even blinked my eyes when I was watching cartoons. Did I have a good time? Yes, I did, but the best memories I have are from my toys I used to make, the backyard that was huge and we had so many things to do there. The circus, ah the circus, we used to play if we were circus' artists.
Carissa, I keep thinking how hard must be having to deal with stuff like this “What ever happened to living in the moment and giving people 100% of your time? “
Sometimes we don't even give 100% of time to ourselves.
Thank you for the post, if your intention was to make people think and re-think, I am now.

Unknown said...

Hi Clarissa,

Came here by way of 365, and I had to tell you how much I love this blog post. You are a kindred spirit (and much better photographer than I am). We had the same problem with our 15 year old son. He was a video game addict. Then a year ago, he got a really bad report card and we packed up all his video games and equipment. He barely blinked, and turned to music instead. It was all music, all the time. Now he has a drum set and I'm happy to have his fellow musicians jam in my basement anytime. The band in my basement actually made me really happy. But last weekend, his friends all banded together and traded in all their old games to buy him an XBox (?) so he could play games online with them. It's apparently a social thing that I don't understand. But the music has been silenced...not good. So I'm going to have to be the bad cop once again...sigh...

It has been so nice getting to know you, and I really hope you don't give up 365 when your year is up.


Clarissa Johal, Author said...

Thanks for commenting, Andie and Alecio! For some reason, the comments went to an old email I've been trying to close out, so I JUST saw these today. I'll have to figure out why comments aren't going to my new email account...ironic

Clarissa Johal, Author said...

Laurie, I just got to your comment today--for some reason the comments were being delivered to another email address. I'm struggling with 365, yes. Blah. Still thinking about it. XBox is a weird thing, I see it as being social but not in the way you would expect. The latest games are more focused on getting kids online to play with other kids (as opposed to being in the same room with their friends to play). Odd. Well, the good thing that came out of this was that my girls have not been so much into all the electronic games, as of late. We've spent way more time outside climbing trees. (I may regret that later--haha.) So, I'm going to chalk one up to me....this week anyways, lol.

Sheri said...

Hi Clarissa,
So fun to see your smiling face on my blog, and even more fun to find your blog. You are a wonderful writer, and I completely agree with the need to unplug and connect with the humans around us. The newest piece of technology making me crazy is the iPad. My adult friends bring them to gatherings, and I just don't get it. Put them away and visit!! Fabulous article!

Clarissa Johal, Author said...

Sherri, just got your comment on here (I'm terrible at posting in my blog--have to get back on-track!) Plus, Blogger keeps sending messages to my old email. I think I fixed it this time.
Anyways, that's crazy you'd bring something like that to a gathering. I would feel a bit put off, I think! Sent you an email and am checking out your Blog right now...