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Susan Flanagan
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Every generation has something it does that drives their parents crazy. It’s the natural evolution of things. Bring it on, I figured. There’s nothing my children could dole out that my own parents didn’t deal with. For a while there, I thought we were immune, thought maybe we were a genuine generation of hip parents.

This generation couldn’t shock us with their appearance. Hippy headbands, lumber jackets, nose rings, Mohawks, shoulder pads and spandex. Ridiculous bell bottoms have come and gone so often that trousers hanging half way down a teenage boy’s rear end are merely quaint. We can even handle a few extra tattoos and piercings: nice work, I say. Commendable rebellion.

And forget about reinventing music. We demonized our own parents for decades. From heavy metal to acid rock to punk, what was left to shock us? Once you’ve unleashed disco on the world, what more harm can be done? Rap was merely a temper tantrum. Lady Gaga seems tame after Alice Cooper.

Even if we don’t like our children’s music, we don’t have to listen. Due to the sheer bulk of the baby boomer bulge, classic rock stations keep playing our own music en masse. And our children don’t spend their money on massive speakers and sound systems; they buy itsy bitsy headphones. Game, set and match to the parents. Or so I thought.

Enter the gadget.

Hands up who did NOT receive an electronic gadget in their home this Christmas. Oh, how I envy you. I know they are not new. And I realize that instant communication is the greatest thing since the industrial revolution.

But iPods, texting phones, game controllers and social networks are doing to me what Led Zeppelin and Jim Morrison did to my parents. They are driving me off the deep end.

Facebook is evil.

How is it possible that a child can have 100 Facebook friends, but only a couple of true live in the flesh friends?

My friend says he can have a conversation with his daughter.

“She’ll look me straight in the eye, but her thumbs never stop. She’s communicating (with me), but part of her mind (is texting).”

Investing so much time in Facebook is affecting personal relationships. Groups of friends no longer interact verbally because they text or are on Facebook several times a day. There is no filter.

My daughter says: So and so went to Harry Potter World when she was in Florida.

I say: Oh when were you talking to her?

She says: I wasn’t. I saw it on Facebook.

How can it be that my niece found out about my father’s death via Facebook?

I hope to never have a Facebook account. The movie “Trust” with Clive Owen frightened me away from social networking which allows predators to move in for the kill.

Equally so, social networking can allow an innocent person’s reputation to get ruined because of something someone posted irresponsibly or inaccurately or maliciously on Facebook?

That being said, I am trying to embrace electronics. I really am.

No. 2 works at a pizza joint two nights a week. In my efforts to embrace social media and to say goodnight to a boy I brought in to this world, I break out my handheld cellular device and text him.

It costs me .15 cents to tap “Good night and God bless” into the itsy bitsy keyboard. I put the black ray emitting device under my pillow until I feel the familiar buzz.

“Good night, Mom,” comes the reply. Then I can go to sleep.

I’m still having trouble with shoot ‘em up video games that emulate warfare. One day I pulled in to a parking space in front of a video game store as a reward to my son who had had a particularly gruelling braces session. I gave my 14-year old the money to buy a game he wanted. He came back out of the store empty handed.

He had to be 18 to purchase. It was that violent, he needed me to go and buy it for him.

No way.

We left without the game.

The kids’ cursed social gadgetry has even infiltrated our professional world. It’s bad enough that we can have 200 emails waiting for us on a Monday morning. It takes two hours to go through, delete the wacko ones and reply to those that need to be replied to. Because there’s not an extra two hours tacked on the start of the work day, a lot of these emails go unanswered and every now and then a super duper serious one gets overlooked.

Now, on top of email, every company wants its employees to monitor Twitter and Facebook and MySpace. Entire corporations have sprung up to keep track of the vast terrabytes of drivel generated hourly. Oh wait, MySpace is dying a painful death. My teenagers would roll their eyes if I asked how to get on MySpace. The word ‘hourly’ is probably obsolete also, everything happens ‘secondly’ now.

So our children have done it. They’ve found a way to demonstrate that we’re out of touch. They spend all their time and money on things that creep me out. They develop carpal tunnel syndrome doing so. They forgo food, fresh air and exercise to poke at buttons. They are driving me to drink.

Susan Flanagan is happy to report that all wills in her lawyer’s safe on Duckworth Street survived the fire. She hopes to tackle the topic of why bother with a will sometime soon.

Geographic location: Duckworth Street

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Recent comments

  • SSJ
    January 04, 2012 - 18:39

    To the writer: While I am a 21-year-old user of Facebook, I keep it to mainly those I know in real life and a few friends I met online that I have known for at least 3 years on a movie site. But that does NOT mean I'm eager to visit them in person, or hold them high above the flesh and blood friends. I have a cell phone too, but I only use it to call family and infrequently text to just a few friends, and not while others are talking. And if I have been supposedly 'corrupted' by Facebook, gadgets and violent movies, then why have I always been considered helpful around the house by my parents, even as a teenager, assisting with supper, laundry, chores and other tasks without being asked? I'm not losing fresh air either, as I walk almost everywhere I go. While I understand the frustration with your own children, and I am not a typical young man myself, I ask that you please refrain from making comments that may lead to your readers generalizing young people as a whole, as being rude and inconsiderate.

  • Colin
    January 04, 2012 - 11:13

    For future reference, when your kid asks for a videogame, just check it here first: http://www.esrb.org/index-js.jsp Videogames are like movies now. Not all, or indeed many, are directed at kids anymore, so make sure to check it out before handing money over. Very responsible of you not to buy it. I've seen a lot of parents picking up very violent, foul language filled games for their 10 year olds. If you wouldn't send them to a mature movie, don't buy them a mature game.

  • redrantingtory
    January 03, 2012 - 12:28

    The dumbing down of humanity as begun and is in full swing. There is a whole generation that will not know how to communicate verbally. They will not know how to write a sentence or read a book. Their whole lives have become meaningless drivle popping up on a screen every two seconds. You cannot talk to most young people now without having them staring down at a screen. I just walk away when they do that. At a restaurant New Years Eve I saw a young couple sitting across from us and the whole dinner they were both heads into their cell phone texting or doing some other meaningless task. Maybe they were talking to each other via text? What a beautiful romantic dinner on New Years?? Then there was the young guy in the truck on Boxing Day, who came around the turn crossing over the yellow line nearly running me off the road. He was staring down at what I assume was a bloody cell phone, texting. As these people get older they will realize how insignificant this drivle is in their real lives but it will be to late as they will be so stupid and lost they will not know how to communicate or socialize. What a shame as the human race could have been so much more.

    • Mark
      January 05, 2012 - 13:35

      Don't be foolish. As has always been, smart parents will teach their children to use smart gadgets smartly. And what is all this about you saying that these gagets are "evil?" That's essentially what the tone of your comment is; it's quite similar to the older generations thinking video games were evil; before that it was Rock 'n' Roll, etc. You do realize that your agitation with the new generation is in no way original and falls quite easily into the same boring ney-saying category, right? I mean come on, there's nothing even alol that threatening about these devices. With Rock 'n' Roll and videogames there was at least explicit "devil" content that hypothetically could drive people to go nuts and kill and all that. But you're making it sound like our gagets are going to ruin our lives and bring down the human race and bla bla bla. Save the fact that texting can lead to accidents and should be policed strongly and recognized as a danger, you really have no argument and I'm embaressed to have to realize that someone could hold such a superficial and unoriginal viewpoint in this province without any substantial justification. In other word's: For God's sake man, it's just a mini-computer. The devices we have allow us to communicate in exciting new ways. If anything, they keep us close when we are apart. They do not hinder our ability to communicate orally (if we don't let them), and if anything they help correct our ability to communicate more efficiently. I believe you are truly ignorant to the miracle of these miniture devices, and I suggest you do more research before stupidly denounce a technology with so much potential to help us learn and grow. It's not surprising that the ignorant neysayers are always the ones denouncing things. If you want to say that the "dumbing down of humanity has begun," you might what to take a few steps back and consider how you are rejecting a device which holds a wealth of information and potential to communicate that information quickly and make the world operate the way it does. You also might want to save your time commneting on things like this in the future, because the world is clearly spinning as a result of technology, and you are part of the world. It's happening with or without your consent so you best get used to it.

  • bob
    January 03, 2012 - 08:49

    You wizard. Facebook=good