Home > Gen-Y, Personal > Are American kids iPods Brazilian kids Soccer Balls?

Are American kids iPods Brazilian kids Soccer Balls?

“You live in a world of personal computers and search engines, e-mail and network, capacity and storage, research and retrieval, entertainment and commerce, but it’s also important to remember that it will do us little good to wire the world if we short-circuit our souls.” – Tom Brokaw Stanford Commencement Speech 2006

Last night after playing four hours of painfully slow golf, I had drinks with an incredibly beautiful and intelligent woman. A friend of a friend, had told me I should “really call her up,” and after three months of trying, I was finally able to track her down. Boy was it worth it.

Our discussion bounced back between graduate school, MIT, life, money, triathlons and personal goals. But sandwiched between the wheat beers and amber ales, she said something so profound I haven’t been able to shake it.

“I loved Brazil,” she said, her face lighting up with the excitement only true sincerity can emulate. “Every kid has a soccer ball, it is their prized possession.”

And then it hit me. The frustrating problem I have with technology.

What if American kids traded their iPods for a soccer ball? Are American kids iPods Brazilian kids soccer balls? And if so, what does this mean?

It’s not that I don’t like technology, in fact I love it. Or that I can’t afford it–I usually buy things I can’t afford. Rather, it’s that kids prioritize their lives around technology, so much so, that our interaction becomes linked to a screen and not the physical world around us.

In the quote above, past NBC Nightly News Anchor and iconic American figurehead, Tom Brokaw, warns Stanford graduates of the danger of not being able to unplug in our hyper-connected world.

“You cannot take your place in the long line of those who came before you simply by sitting in front of a screen or at a keyboard,” Brokaw said. “Life away from the keyboard, the PDA and the cell phone is a life in which you connect to the websites of your personal convictions, and that is an obligation you must carry with you the rest of your days.”

Personally I struggle with technology and the social implications it brings. I am a part of Facebook, MySpace, Smugmug, Flickr, AIM and a smattering of other Internet based applications. I’ve started this blog, set up an RSS Reader, and constantly comment on other writers blogs in hopes of starting a conversation.

But then there is the other side of me. The side that desires to be with people. I am not necessarily a social butterfly, but someone who enjoys common discourse. I love the human touch, emotion and body langue. As much as I try, I have not been able to replace that with technology—not even through video chat.

This brings me back to the soccer ball.

When I was little, my soccer ball was a bike. My friends and I would ride for hours, crisscrossing town, jumping curbs, skidding-out and riding away from park rangers. Our life was limited not to our parents boundaries, but how far we could push them with our own two legs.

I didn’t have an iPod back then either, just an old Walkman with two ear buds that four of us would try to listen to at once. Sure I would have liked one, and even own two different ones now, but looking back on it, if I had been exposed to the technology available today, I’m sure I wouldn’t have spent as much time on my bike.

Over the next few months this will undoubtedly be a reoccurring topic on this blog. As I travel around America, I will be experiencing both the joy of email and interconnectedness while sleeping out under the stars and driving away from wifi as fast as I can.

Until then though, I’ll continue to blog, and learn how to balance my iPod with my newly bought soccer ball. (Otherwise known as a kick ass road bike!)

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Categories: Gen-Y, Personal
  1. Dewey Bushaw
    August 13, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    Technology is like anything else. Even a soccer ball can limit one’s childhood. Spending every waking free moment playing soccer will not lead you to learning grammar, spelling, math, and science. Balance is key to anything in this world. If you weigh one side down to much then the other side suffers.

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