Didn’t you just hate it when your parents would give you those old sob stories about how bad things were when they were growing up?
“You know, son, when I was a child, I had to walk 12 miles to school, in the snow, uphill both ways.”
“Really, Dad. You’re from South Georgia. It snowed like 10 times in the last century. And I don’t know what kind of technological marvel of a path county planners created that was uphill both ways, but if I were you, I think I’d have walked on the downhill side each way.”
Of course, that was when I was a kid. I’m now a 47-year-old kid, which means I remember how tough I had it as a kid compared to kids of today. And I think the biggest advantage kids have today over my childhood is that they don’t have to wait for many things.
When I was a kid, if I had a hankering for a fancy Italian meal, I had to wait for a special occasion for my parents to splurge on a trip to some restaurant with a name like Gorgano Fettucine’s or Pizza Hut. Kids today, though, can grab a can of Chef Boyardee’s microwavable beef ravioli and — ZAP! — in 45 seconds they’ve got a fancy Italian meal.
What about cartoons? I had to wait all week long for Saturday morning to roll around so I could catch up with Scooby-Doo and the Justice League. Kids today can watch cartoons 24 hours a day on about 12 different channels — several of which have the word “Cartoon” in it.
Kids today can surf on-demand movies or pop in a DVD and watch just about any movie. I remember waiting all year long for “The Wizard of Oz” and those horrifying flying monkeys that only dropped by once a year at Thanksgiving. If you missed it, you had to wait 364 more days to try to catch it again.
We did have VHS tapes, of course, but it took several minutes for those to rewind. Kids today — including 47-year-old kids like myself — won’t sit through a 15-second ad at the beginning of an online video. If I don’t see the words “Skip ad in 4 seconds,” I’m hitting the back button.
Kids today have 10,000 songs on their phones that they can play anytime they want to. We had to sit by our boom box while listening to the Top 10 at 10 ready to hit the record button on the cassette player if the radio station played something decent. While waiting, we might hear something on the radio that we weren’t expecting, something that turned us on to a new artist or genre. Kids today are stuck in a musical bubble of the same ol’ stuff over and over.
Now, personally, I enjoy my musical playlists, on-demand movies and the occasional can of microwavable Chef Boyardee when I’m feeling fancy, and I wouldn’t trade those conveniences of today for the inconveniences of yesterday.
Still, I wonder about the effects of this instant-gratification world that we now live in. I don’t think kids today learn patience the way those of my generation did — kinda like we didn’t develop the strong calves and hamstrings of our parents who walked everywhere uphill both ways.
There’s something to be said for anticipation — the feeling, not the Carly Simon song. There’s something to be said about not always getting what you want. There’s something to be said for having to wait for a moment. Life’s moments are more precious when you have to wait for them.
At least, I think that’s what this YouTube video is preaching. I didn’t stick around to watch it because it wanted me to sit through a 30-second ad for Chevy trucks first.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
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