The Internet Isn’t the Problem

Some article with the clickbait headline of Why Steve Jobs Didn’t Let His Kids Use iPads (And Why You Shouldn’t Either) is making the rounds on Facebook. As you can guess, people are sharing it and crowing about their Internet-free childhood and all the fun they used to have sans computer. Or with slow Internet.

The gist is … kids were better off without the Internet. Because they got out and did stuff for real. You know, our parents said the same damn thing about TV. The computer – whether laptop, tablet or smartphone – is just this era’s TV. The handwringing is all the same, just with higher resolution and better sound. Call me a skeptic that all this rosy-viewed nostalgia is just so much bullshit. Let’s use the naming convention of the day and just call it NetShaming.

I first used the Internet when I was 23 and researching a paper for my Writing About Shakespeare class in college. Now, I’m going to regale you with a few choice bits of my Internet use that will prove that this article is wrong. And so are you if you’re jumping on its bandwagon. Let’s go in a relatively reverse chronological order as we examine how my Internet use directly translated into my real life:

THIS WEEKEND – Used the Internet to reset the idle on my Subaru Forester. I also used the Internet to play an online curling game, which helps me understand the strategy better for my "In Real Life" curling league. Oh, and I played against a Brazilian who helped me keep in practice with my growing Portuguese vocabulary.

EARLIER THIS YEAR – My wife used the Internet to sign me up for a class at the Aboriginal Living Skills School. There, I learned how to – in real life! – make traps, weapons and fire with sticks. I disinfected water and learned to identify edible woodland plants -- and quite possibly a variety of ways to wipe my butt with nature’s gifts.

LAST YEAR – Booked a flight to Vietnam, where I did stuff In Real Life that are too numerous to list here, including running a 10K in Hanoi. I keep in touch with people I met during that trip on the Internet.

ANY PREVIOUS NUMBER OF YEARS – Booked flights to, accommodations in and activities in: Australia, Belize, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea and Sweden. Thanks, Internet!

FIVE YEARS AGO – Raced in my first 24-hour mountain bike race with people I met on Facebook in a community for Phoenix-area mountain bikers. Facebook, in case you don’t know, is (say it with me, brothers and sisters!) on the Internet.

UNTIL ABOUT TWO YEARS AGO – Used the Internet to book gigs. I played nearly 200 shows at regional venues. In real life. Because of the Internet.

10 YEARS AGO – Formed a band using some old friends and a drummer we found -- wait for it -- on the Internet.

That’s a decent summary. Look at the content of this blog to see other stuff I did with help from the Internet.

And I didn’t grow up surrounded by technology. Still, I think you need to quit blaming the tools. It’s not the computer, the tablet, the Internet, the smartphone or whatever that’s the problem.

It’s you. If your kids are wasting their lives on the Internet, look at how you use it. See any parallels?

Now what if – what if? – you use your Internet access to plan adventures? To research activities? To get shit done? Will your kids emulate that at all? Will they use it to meet future bandmates? To plan vacations? To learn how to do cool things in real life?

You betcha. Now quit blaming the devices.

This post just might contain affiliate links. Fear not, they’re non-spammy and benign. Hey, I have to keep this thing running somehow!

Writer. Traveler. Gastronomic daredevil. Fitness fan. Homebrewer. Metal dude \m/. Cat and dog lover.

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