Sunday, November 25, 2012

iPhone 6: for Toddlers

            A popular concern in the modernmedia, and the topic of an essay from one of our guest contributors, iscreeping privileges. Objects that were once only in the possession of the mostwell-off adults now find themselves in the grubby little hands of ourelementary school crowd. Because of the now socially acceptable action ofbestowing game consoles, state-of-the-art cellular technology, and money on children, it has beensaid that children are becoming detached from their immediate surroundings,rude to their superiors, and coddled beyond any healthy state. I would like topropose that children are no more annoying today than they were hundreds ofyears ago; the difference is that the average American (the only view I’m evenremotely enough of an expert on to state my opinion) is now living long enoughto see what was once difficult to acquire when they were children become available for a fraction of the cost and with none of the sharp edges or radiation.
            Picture yourself in Salem, Massachusettsaround 1692 and 1693. This is the height of the frenzy created over thestatements of several young girls who claimed to be possessed and controlled bywitches. Because of their accusations and the hysteria that followed, at least25 people died (I’m using Wikipedia figures; read with a grain of salt) andarguably hundreds of lives were ruined or made more difficult. One of the girls laterrecanted her accusations. The point of this example? I just wanted to givethe backstory to the play that was turned into a movie that was the basis forone of my favorite Motionless in White songs.
            Actually, the main reason for thatexample was I wanted to show historical precedent for how bad kids can be. No child nowadays will kill a Mitt Romneyquarter (one-fourth of one hundred) for attention; he or she will just whine onFacebook, and Twitter, and Tumblr, and MySpace (recently renovated), and LiveJournal,and Instagram, and in class. The idea that children are being made worse by theprivileges they get today seems implausible, but they are getting less sunlightbecause they’re playing Modern Warfare 24 instead of dancing naked in the woodstrying to conjure the Devil.
            Another reason people make such aruckus over what privileges kids get is because of how quickly what once wasexpensive and a novelty becomes everyday expectations. I’m writing this essayon the laptop I got for college while waiting for my professor to finish talkingto another student, a concept that would be the basis of science fictiontwenty-five years ago but is so commonplace to me I’d be confused if I didn’tsee at least one other student on his or her laptop in the hallway, and thereis a girl right next to me on hers as I type this. The idea thatlittle kids are spoiled by PS3s and iPads only works if one is stuckconsidering what that item would have meant when he or she was the same age. IfI got my first laptop when my dad got his, I’d be the envy of every child.Since I didn’t get my first laptop until I was halfway to 19 (and it’s not evena MacBook!), I’m probably considered underprivileged as far as folks from my part of the world are considered. Not to mention I didn't get a car for my sixteenth birthday. How's that for a shocker from a middle-class brat?
            There is no doubt that children canbecome treacherous little gremlins if given undue privilege, but the idea thatchildren are becoming those little gremlins because they get forlittle effort what would have cost an average year’s wage in 1970 doesn’t seemconvincing upon closer inspection. There's a deeper force at work, their perception of how the world works as shaped by those in power over them. The toys can, but don't have to be, merely a symptom. On the other hand, I still don’t have aniPhone, but every middle-schoolerdoes. Little jerks…

-Jason Rossiter

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