Ray Slater: Life before cell phones and social media | TheUnion.com

Ray Slater: Life before cell phones and social media

Recently, my granddaughter told me the next generation (those currently still in grade school) will be the first generation to have never known life without cell phones and social media. As a result, she said, they are overbearing know-it-alls, mature beyond their years. Her generation is appalled.

Later, it occurred to me that, in my late 70’s, I may be in the last generation to contain people who have never owned a cell phone or used social media. I must admit, for me, this is only partially true. I do have a flip phone “for emergencies.” But I don’t know where it is. And before learning not to, I made occasional posts on Lake Wildwood’s neighborhood site.

My wife has a cell phone, which often comes in very handy and provides us with contact with the grandkids. But to me, the pictures on an iPhone or computer website are only a poor shadow of reality. They often look very posed, like the proverbial “Kodak moment.” I wish never to see another cute picture of a cat.

Last Fourth of July I saw people watching the fireworks on their phones, afraid they would miss the perfect moment to send to friends and relatives. There are never photos of bad moments, or mistakes, or blemishes on the ether. Everyone’s life, every event, is perfect.

At one time it may have been true that a picture was worth a thousand words. But I fear it is not always a good bargain. A friend of mine, while telling me of his new house, described the sunsets no less than three times in a two-hour visit. Not once did he have to open his phone. His descriptions were vivid and emotional. They left pictures in my head that could never be duplicated with a bunch of red and orange pixels on a tiny screen.

Will this new generation lose that indescribable tactile sensation of holding a newspaper or book? Will they never know the joy of being welcomed back by the dog-eared page of a book? Will they never experience the unique details in an old black-and-white photograph?

There is hope. I understand the vinyl record store in Grass Valley is quite popular with young people who, brought up on digital music, now want to hear the true sound. Perhaps, someday, they will also seek true vision and real descriptive conversation.

Ray Slater

Penn Valley

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