I’m a millennial. That generation the straddles the pre and post-internet explosion. I like to believe we are that magical generation that had the best of both worlds.
We are the kids born between the years 1981 and 1996. So we straddle the Baby Boomers and Gen X – Gen Z generations. Maybe I’m just biased but I think we are the best. We can be insufferable, entitled, and lazy (according to some people) but we are still the best.
We didn’t grow up around much technology. There was TV and radio, and if you were a member of the bourgeoisie, you had a video deck player which played movies whose audio was dubbed over by a man in the local language. A lot of the time, we had to create our own entertainment. We played hide and seek, we climbed trees while we waited for the good TV to come on. I remember getting so bored one time and reading an encyclopedia.
Growing up, we had an old type of TV. It was the kind that you had to switch on hour before. The TV would have to heat up before it showed any pictures. On Saturday, the first one to wake up, switched on the TV and then we’d quickly hurry up to finish our chores before planting our butts firmly on the carpet to watch the Saturday morning cartoons. It’s was almost like if we watched with our noses practically pressed to the TV, it wouldn’t disappear.
We are the generation of Power Rangers, Tom and Jerry, Wacky Races, Dexter’s Laboratory, Ed, Edd n Eddy, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Cow and Chicken, and Pinky and the Brain.
I remember the first time I saw a mobile phone. I was about 10 and it was probably a first generation Nokia. The thing was fascinating. It was heavy, had an aerial and the mouthpiece was as flip. Up until then, I’d only ever seen them on the TV. Trying to understand how it works was fun. I remember looking at it and being afraid of it. And then when the adults said it was okay to touch, I did and didn’t want to let go.
The phone was my mum’s, a gift from her sister. She, too, was fascinated but it. She was the one that suggested that I call 999 (the toll free police number). So we did, we called, the policemen picked up. We giggled and hang up. And then we proceeded to to explore the device, awed by every new function we found it could do. This took most of the night.
The novelty of this new connection device wore off with coming years. The magic of it wore off. I mean here was something that had the power to connect you to a person thousands of miles away. But that wonder wore off. Consumerism dictated that it did. It became about owning the latest thing. The latest gadget. And the wars about which one is better.
Apple vs Android vs Blackberry vs Nokia vs whatever Itel was supposed to be. The question is, does it do the job it’s asked to. Does it connect me to Beaton and Valentine in Zimbabwe? Does it help me listen to my cousin in the States talk about his day? Does it help Justine read what I have written?
I sometimes think about the past and the euphoria and wonder I felt at touching this new thing. And then that memory of me giggling with mother over calling a number that we weren’t supposed to and I smile. I feel like with every new technological advancement, we are losing the wonder of discovery. And that saddens me. Because what is this world without wonder.
Phones have become an integral part of our society. We need them. Can’t be without them. It’s hard to be without them. And they have helped a lot. What I want is for us is to appreciate all the connectivity they’ve brought us. At the same time, recognize that at anytime we could lose it (Like we did in January) and appreciate that.
Stop taking your phone for granted 90s kid. Remember when you didn’t have one.
This post was written on a phone by a grateful 90s kid.