Sometimes I think I am one of those grandmothers who live perennially in the past. Add to that, the million memes on social media that revisit snippets from the 90s (like the old Cartoon Network for instance) and remind you of what an awesome childhood (their words) you had. They are not wholly wrong. In fact, for one, they are a hundred percent right about Cartoon Network. The cartoons broadcast on TV nowadays – well, literally anything being broadcast on TV nowadays – causes me to lose a few brain cells. I tried to make my boy watch Duck Tales on my laptop (yup, I have it!) but he just turned his nose up in favour of a blue balloon-like-thing-I-don’t-know-what-it-is called Doraemon.
But enough about cartoons. Growing up in the 90s was an experience to be cherished. It was the period of transition, it was the period of wonder and it was a window to the best of both worlds – the vintageness of the bygone era and the cutting-edge-ness of the era to come. It was the era when rotary dialers were being replaced by number keypads and it was the age of the 5 and quarter inch floppy disk – one you could play with even if you didn’t insert it into the computer! And the era of walkmans! Each day was a new discovery, so to speak.
I recently read an article that said teenagers nowadays are happier than those of the previous generation. It said teenagers are handed everything on a platter and unlike the earlier generations they do not have to demand or struggle for anything. How is that happier? If anything, in my opinion, that would lead to stagnation, saturation, terribly short attention spans, and, an utter lack of wonder in the beauty of life.
That is what kids today lack – wonder. They are born into a world bursting at the seams with technology that it may or may not need. For instance, what good is an Apple watch? Back when we were kids, a watch with a calculator was considered a hot gadget – and it really was,and hell, it was better than the Apple watch! It terrifies me that kids today wear bored expressions at such a young age. Books don’t hold their interest anymore. They will never know what it was like to wait for the next Harry Potter book. And the shock of discovering plot twists while reading it.
My first act of rebellion was at age eight when my group of friends wanted to plant some seeds in a nearby park. My overly-protective father (who, by the way, loves gardening himself) was convinced I would not wash my hands after playing in the mud, and fall ill. Overly-protective, but not really expressive, and as a result the way the message was delivered was, you could say, Amrish Puri-ish! I not only played in the like a kid in one of those detergent commercials (with one of those bogus people called “washing machine scientists”) but also would go to the spot every day to water it and wait for shoots to grow. It didn’t happen for whatever reason, but the waiting, and the anticipation is something kids today will never know, simply because they would rather grow an e-farm on an iPad (irrespective of whether or not you let them – because those are their mild acts of rebellion!) That’s about as much DIY they seem interested in. It does not help either that even schools nowadays show everything using a projector – kids are never going to breathe a dreamy “wow” when their teacher draws a flower on the board, and they will never be called to write on the board themselves. Remember how exciting that was!
I used to have a feature on my blog called “Slaves of Technology” which I stopped updating about two years ago. But from the title of the feature, you could probably guess it content! Truth is, I would give anything to let my son discover the world that is beyond the click of a button, to discover the sheer joy of pulling out an earthworm with a stick, to use a camera at more important places than in front any available mirror. And though he may never wait for Harry Potter (that was an exclusive privilege that the 90s kids had) I hope he discovers the joys of books and stories (without me influencing him, of course!) If he ever wants to go planting seeds, he has my full blessing – and a bottle of handwash.