Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My kids don't need a phony Dad – do yours?

Technology's sweet, siren call lures me away from the people and the things I love the most... and tragically, it's just beginning.

Remember when you would call someone and if you didn't get them, you would hang up and call back later? If you do, you are probably smirking that little "Oh yeah" smirk or the nod of "Boy, those were the days".

I thought I was going to be like Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic, standing on the bow of the ship, shouting "... I'm king of the world!", at least that's what I thought when, in late 2009 when I gave up a fairly sweet cell phone for what we all have come to know as... a Smartphone. You know then, the iPhones, Andorids and Blackberrys with touch screen technology and the ability to download a blinding number of games, sings, applications (or "Apps"), GPS and even movies.

The power in the common Smartphone is staggering. It has been noted multiple times that there is as much as ten times the computing power in the common Smartphone as was used to calculate and run NASA's entire first moon landing mission.

In a recent CNN article, the dilemma of 'distracted parenting' was identified. Apparently, 21st century parents are at odds when trying to be/stay/get connected and having to attend to, sometimes basic needs of their kids. You can read about that travesty here;

Got Angry Birds? Facebook? Twitter? Four Square? RSS? Blogger? I do. Yep, every one. These Apps have taken over millions of phones. Millions. And I can't keep up. Between Facebook, XBOX 360º's XBOX LIVE (which by the way, not only has real-time voice chat but also has video phone capability), Skype, two phones, home & cell, three desktops and two laptops (work and home), numerous email accounts (currently five, not including work email), learning Four Square and that good old standby, texting. My Smartphone is constantly blowing up. Several people in my life, including my girlfriend, are astounded that I am not Twittering more. Shame on me.

I agree, how am I able to survive from moment-to-moment without reading the random thoughts and the dizzying array of commentary of a legion of family, friends and celebrities? My life is somehow compromised, I'm convinced. But I am reaching a threshold. There is a coming Singularity (no not the artificial intelligence doomsday, that blog post is coming, though), no, I mean there is only so hyper-connected I can be. Even with two blogs going (oh check out my Sci-Fi movie review blog, The Boxed Office and contemplating a third plus two new web portals, I think I am hitting the limit.

The kids want in on it. "Dad, can I use your phone?" they ask. "Why?" I respond. "I want to play Angry Birds." My daughter interfaced Facebook with her cell phone until I cut the service. The truth is, to participate in the new world economy and social media revolution, we gotta do this stuff. Or do we? Can I live without my phone's GPS, camera, gmail pings or texts? The thought of being without them gives me slight tremors. But, haven't we all done it before? And at what cost?

Hard to say.

I'll bet, though, my kids would rather I look them in the eye when I speak to them and not be permanently pre-distracted with incoming, texts, Tweets and Blog/RSS feeds. I'm guessing, and I am going out on a limb here, it's OK not to pick up the phone every once and a while. After all, there is... wait for it... voicemail.

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