My daughter didn’t have a phone until she was 15 … she got it because she started dating her very first boyfriend and, well frankly, we didn’t trust him. So I gave her my phone so that she could always get in touch with us.
Thankfully it lasted only a few weeks, but the bug had bitten and she wanted her own phone.
While we had some very strict phone use rules in our house (no phones in the bedroom; all phones in the kitchen to charge; no phones at night; certain apps were banned etc) we did notice the way teens were using their phones. Reliance on phones for texting and messaging seemed to lead to an inability to communicate face-to-face – something that is important for reading body language, subtle visual cues etc and a skill that teens of the day seemed to lack.
Fast forward to 2020 and we now have widespread social media apps and a virus – which has effectively – for the short-term at least – forced us all into isolation and the only way we have to communicate with loved ones is ‘virtually’ – through Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Facebook etc.
Workers are going online and ‘teleworking’. Teachers are taking their lessons online and having students ‘dial in’.
So what once seemed to be the cause of the death of communication, appears to have evolved into new ways to stay connected.
It did get me thinking however. In the lead up to this latest global challenge, all we saw this tech being used for was abuse and bullying online, strangers ripping each other to shreds over the tiniest thing, people being triggered over inane topics, arguments over climate change, Greta, refugees, religion, terrorism, Veganism, gender fluidity, pronouns, identity politics, diversity, intersectionality, walls, black, white, left, and right. Children being used in the frontlines of adult ‘wars’. We were all frankly acting like children.
I wonder… is this the Mother’s way of giving us all a time out? Perhaps we should use it wisely and take a good long look at what we consider important and to re-evaluate just how we treat each other.
And just like that, all of those things that once seemed so crushingly important, just… aren’t.
In the face of an invisible ‘foe’ we are, after all, exactly the same.