My daughter, who is 4, thinks EVERY TV show and movie is available right now. As in, right now, not 5 minutes from now. She has learned to tell me she wants Netflix or Amazon depending on the show she wants to watch. Heaven help us if there’s a delay to the stream load! I get aggravated a book I loved to read years ago is still not available in another printing or as an ebook!
It’s easy to decide these new changes in our children and ourselves to be detrimental. After all, it sounds like we have no patience anymore, no willingness to live life like we did BEFORE all of the movie TV, video game, music, and book content was just a download away.
But I won’t.
Screens have become the new paper.
People who didn’t have AP European History with Ms. Vakos might not realize just how truly disruptive the printing press really was. Suddenly, anyone could learn or know anything if it’s written down on paper. Before this, scribes had to hand write tomes. No one owned books except for the exceptionally wealthy, including leaders, and most of the world’s population couldn’t read.
The freedom our country enjoys of the press is 100% in response to laws and leaders working tirelessly to stop it. Bans on books, taxes on printing materials, executions for sharing information; are all part of our shared history as humanity. Freedom of the press doesn’t mean our news agencies, but of the printing press, of information going out to the masses without restriction from the government.
But now it’s a screen.
The other day, as I was running errands, my local area had a flash flood warning. Anywhere I went, mass alarms would go off. Why? Because everyone’s iPhone was sending them an alert from the National Weather Service. It was creepy on a spectacular level, even though I’m a proponent of technology.
What if that privilege fell into the wrong hands? What is the wrong hands? What if a message induced mass hysteria? To be honest, I didn’t immediately think “This is wonderful, now everyone can be told if there’s a true emergency,” but “Oh my goodness, what if someone starts a hoax about a virus outbreak and people panic?” I have NO desire to play The Walking Dead, the real game.
Our digital drumbeat is NOW. The metronome is cranked up to 330 beats per minute and the stream never stops. Open publishing platforms in books, games, apps, and even videos and music mean that corporate needs can’t stifle the spread of information.
You want to publish a video on how to open a jar? There’s Youtube. What about a book that’s a mixture of Sherlock Homes meets Dr. Frankenstein and hangs out with the Wolfman? There’s Amazon and other publishing platforms, or you can even just start your own website. When there’s riots in Egypt, I’m able to get a first hand view thanks to cell phone cameras. We’re closer than ever to people on the other side of the world.
Veruca Salt Would Love This Age…
In the classic Gene Wilder’s version of Willy Wonka, the selfish brat of Roald Dahl’s famous novel, Veruca Salt, sings a song about “I want it now!” I always think about that when I get miffed that a show I wanted to watch accidentally didn’t record, or a movie that was available to stream yesterday as part of my Netflix service is suddenly gone.
I like that my daughter can already recognize major monuments and statues from around the world. She can speak simple nouns and verbs in Spanish, French, and Korean thanks to children’s shows. My oldest is just starting to love reading thanks to movies like Lord of the Rings and the Hunger Games.
Just because our world moves at a faster clip than it did before doesn’t mean it’s all bad. Where we were once all dancing a waltz when it came to our media content, now it’s time for the salsa!