Up until about 3 weeks ago, I would roll my eyes whenever I saw someone standing still facing a blank wall looking at their phone. I’d think, Are they just lamely staring at nothing? Oh no, it’s worse, they’re playing Pokemon Go. Pssh! Don’t they know how stupid they look?
For someone who laughs out loud when they’re reading in public, I’m really not one to scoff about how stupid one looks, but I did anyway.
And then my son started playing.
At first he’d play but gave disclaimers like, “It’s stupid, but it’s something to do.” But now he’s a full-blown Pokemon Go-er (Is that a term? Well it is now). I started fighting the urge to eye-roll so he wouldn’t feel bad, and a few days later a woman at church suggested we get to know our kids better by asking them about the game. Good advice. Then two nights ago while driving through a neighborhood in the dark of night I suddenly saw several roving bands of teenagers. Quite honestly, it was jarring. Not because they looked thuggish or something. They were clean-cut and wearing jean shorts or plaid shirts or whatever the youths are into these days. My first thought was, what kind of shenanigans are those hoodlums up to? Because teenagers. Then I realized that I hadn’t seen more than two teens out walking together at night since I was a teen and my friends and I left a band party to march in the street, run around at the park, and scream while the boys shot each other in the legs with BB guns. I also realized that these kids were being so much more well-behaved than we ever were. They were simply smiling, laughing, talking to each other, and walking in well-defined groups while looking around, at each other, and at their phones.
But we, the now-adults of generation X/Y are impossible to please.
We complain that kids these days are so lazy and only stare at screens all day. But wonder of wonders, now they’re walking around outside and interacting with each other! Sure, they are looking at their phones, but they’re pointing out to each other,”Hey look a Pokémon Type Thingy (or whatever those hings are called)!” And now we complain that they are wandering around playing a stupid game. I think we probably say “when I was your age…” 20 times more than any grandparent who grew up in the depression. They made their own underwear out of flour sacks but we’re the ones who are bitter about our kids being able to stream any TV show on demand when we had to watch network programming and sit through “these messages” every five minutes. Our grandparents were drafted into war, and so were their kids, but we harp endlessly on our kids for playing call of duty for 12 hours when we would have spent our time creatively enjoying nature all day in 100 degree heat because we were so active, healthy, and social. But it’s hypocritical bull crap. I watched “these messages” all freaking day long in the summer and did hours of homework in the winter and when I did play outside it was because my mom made me. I was so addicted to the television that I watched the Rodney King trial for 2 weeks while I was out sick with the chicken pox because they’d postponed all the good daytime programming like the Gilligan’s Island and I love Lucy reruns.