Take me somewhere there is Wifi, my 13 year old gripped. “There’s nothing to do here.” We were spending the weekend away from the city at our property in the hills. “I’m so bored!” she added just in case somehow her initial proclamation was missed. “What am I supposed to be doing?” I exhaled and grinned at her, trying not to crack a smile even though I couldn’t help but feel the corners of my mouth start to rise. One of the reasons we come here is to get away from computers, television, cell phones and yes, the internet too. Her expression was of complete terror.
Can’t really blame her. She’s of the Online Generation, growing up in a connected world where a connection to the internet is always there. Immediate access to video chatting with her friends, watching videos and downloading music, just as familiar to her as getting in a car and going for a drive was for me at her age. Now that was gone and it was all my fault. I brought her here after all to get away. With a tossing of her hair she slammed the door and was gone.
I couldn’t help but be happy, I had succeeded in getting her to go outside and find something to do! Mission accomplished. It didn’t take more than a few moments for the guilt to start setting in. Why exactly was I doing this anyways and what was the point in forcibly unplugging her from the world she had always known? Turns out, I did the right thing.
Up the driveway she wandered, turned the corner and was out of sight. Without her cell phone to call on, without her laptop to surf the web with, she was truly on her own. Who would have thought that only three short houses away, an almost identical situation was unfolding with another teenager, who also had a case of the No-Internet blues. She didn’t even see him on the tree swing, since her grumpy face was staring down at her Converse shoes. Not until she was almost past his house did he call out to her and jolt her from her solitude. “Sup?”
I wasn’t hearing things, the goofy laughter in the distance was in fact real. I trotted down the street and found them. They were taking turns twisting each other on the swing and watching how fast they would spin and unwind. “Daddy, try this, it’s so fun!” she screamed to me once I was in view. I declined, watching them was enough to almost make me nauseous. The situation was like a phone or any device that uses best wifi extender, everything is so fast!
Remember, next time you want to make a new friend, forget the online dating services or friend finding social networks. Try turning off your cell phone and computer and take a walk. You never know who you will meet. As I walked away I heard them exchanging Facebook usernames to be able to chat online. Oh well.