on May 31, 2011
My daughter is 11. When I think of her life at 11 and my life at 11, I’m stunned by the differences. Let’s go back. [insert dreamlike squiggley transition to the past]
When I was 11, MTV was less than two years old, actually played music videos 24 hours a day, and my sister (14) and I were hopelessly addicted. During every commercial break, we had to turn the channel to MTV to see what was on. And I say “turn the channel” because we literally had to TURN THE CHANNEL. By turning a knob on the television that sat upon the console television which did not work but served as TV stand.
We did not have a microwave or a VCR (though my school had a Beta player) and our phone was attached to the wall, a long cord stretching from the receiver to the base. I’m pretty sure we’d switched from the rotary model to the push button model by this time. Oh, and there was no such thing as call waiting or caller ID. Needless to say, there were no cell phones.
For music, I had albums. Giant, black, grooved discs of vinyl that my sister and I played on our record player. Which wasn’t even attached to a receiver so there was no stereo system to listen to the radio. Just the albums. I was in love with Loverboy, who turned out to be my first concert that same year, at age 11.
Atari was about to burst onto the scene, but we would never own a gaming console. I did have a little hand held football game, which was a series of dashes I moved across the 1 x 2 inch screen. I killed at that game, but I couldn’t play a football video game now to save my life.
Now we return to the present. [more squiggley dream effects]
My daughter has her own cell phone, upon which she texts her friends. She never actually has phone conversations on the phone. That would be silly. She has an iPod Touch (which *I* did not buy), a docking station for said iPod (which *I* did not buy), and a Wii gaming system (which *I* did not buy). She has a television in her room loaded with more than a hundred channels. There are no knobs in sight.
Our phone does not have a cord, our kitchen is fully equipped, and we can watch videos whenever the mood strikes. She also attended her first concert at two weeks old, but that’s because I’m a cooler parent than my parents ever were. (They still don’t own a computer so they’ll never see this.) Oh yeah, and we have a laptop that is smaller than my first record player.
Amazing to see how much has changed in not quite three decades. BUT (here comes the point of all this) my daughter still has a bookshelf in her room. She still reads books. Books printed on paper with lovely covers that go with her wherever she goes.
I do own an eReader (that *I* did not buy – I’m seeing a pattern here) and I like the idea of carrying hundreds of books with one thin little device. But as I’ve watched things fall away – albums, cassettes, video tapes – I’m happy to say books have never fallen away. And though I’m all for progress, I hope they never will.