TEEING off on the younger generation as lazy, antisocial nerds obsessed with mobile phones, Facebook and iPad games is a favourite pastime of older generations.
That’s because no one listens to the older generation, so why not?
In the interests of fair play it was good to see Angela Ritter give both young and old a spray recently in a Letter to the Editor headed ‘‘Parents cause of antisocial brats’’.
Angela was unimpressed with what she calls the ‘‘tech-savvy child’’.
The one who uses their phones and tablets in public places during meal times and social situations.
She was equally damning of parents who let them, suggesting they should disarm them of devices so all parties could engage in the ancient art of conversation, where sounds emanate from the mouth in the form of words, and information is conveyed like ‘‘put the phone away’’.
Herald online reader ‘‘Melle’’ reckoned Angela was spot on: ‘‘It’s not only the kids that have become brain dead – look at some of the younger/older parents with the mobile stitched to their hand. Conversation is a thing of the past.”
This got me pondering the nature of dinner table conversation.
And yes, it is galling when one family member texts the other to ‘‘pass the salt’’.
But then again, elegance of conversation is often in the ear of the beholder.
Who hasn’t come to the table after a bad day at the office/school/supermarket, where everyone’s a bit prickly, and the repartee runs a bit like this? ‘‘I set the table.’’
‘‘No I set the table.’’
‘‘You set it last night.’’
‘‘Whatever, someone get me wine!’’
Of course it is important to set moments and places where you actually speak to each other because it helps socialise us in a world ironically consumed with social media.
Spare a thought for the modern kid rudely unplugged from the internet, though.
In their world it’s the most antisocial thing they can do.
And struggle they do with the cold turkey thing. To which I usually say: ‘‘The wine, I said get me wine.’’
I’ve always taken the phrase ‘‘tech-savvy child’’ to mean the one who knows how to make the entertainment system work when on holiday in foreign lounge rooms.
And far from being unimpressed I’ve been eternally grateful, because shortly after they’ve worked their magic, I’ve been able to watch the cricket.
For some reason, my kids prefer to log on to Instagram or Snapchat or some other non-cricket site thereafter.
Ten seconds of Ian Chappell commentary explains it.
In public, it’s maybe different.
Online identity ‘‘Crazyivan’’ made a valid point when he said the child in a public dining area quietly using a tablet/iPod/phone while having a meal is far less antisocial than the people who allow their feral children to run amok around other diners or be loud and annoying.
And we’ve all had that pleasure.
Decorum prohibits you from saying anything, but a bit of technology would come in handy. A taser perhaps.
I well remember restaurant experiences with my kids where, if it was an episode of Survivor, I’d vote myself out.
Caught short at the witching hour; thought rather than make something at home, you’d hit a restaurant; regain your life etc. Big mistake.
Your kid goes ballistic and next thing the table just down from you is ordering one crispy skinned chicken, one vegetables with oyster sauce, and the immediate evacuation of the kid from the Exorcist, and its parents.
If you had a mobile phone you could at least jam it in the kid’s mouth (joke) or at least make like someone was calling and pretend it wasn’t your child.
Someone else pointed out the double standards of pacification.
A book is considered good (tick): A computer game bad (cross).
Back in grandpa’s day it used to be the heady threat of swift violence that kept the troops in check.
Nowaday’s that’s not so acceptable, unless we supply it in a computer game.
‘‘Activeness’’ is an important consideration – mental v physical.
A book is considered top of the tree, with the one drawback you may have to read it several thousand times and by then you’re pretty sure Jimmy the Jet is going to make it back to the airport.
On the other hand an app requiring protagonists to slice animated fruit in half, is perceived in some quarters tantamount to early onset brain death. Though it is fun.
I say considerations of activeness depend on whether you want to chase your kid around the restaurant all meal.
‘‘Hayley’’ agreed, arguing she’d rather have her kid occupied while mum and dad enjoyed their meal. She called it being considerate to others. But mainly to herself.
‘‘Jlan’’ nonetheless wondered if the technology might be doing to the kid’s brain in. I’d argue, in a restaurant situation, where it’s my brain v the kid’s brain, the selfish gene kicks in.
Each situation needs to be judged on its merits and to any criticism from young or old I reply: ‘‘Sorry, I wasn’t listening.’’