By Sean McVeigh
My nephew loves to press buttons. I often imagine him coming across that big red glowing button that has a sign above it that reads “DO NOT PRESS.” I don’t think there are any forces on Heaven or Earth that could deter him from pressing that button. I call it “Tommy’s Law” — any button that can be pressed, will be pressed. All this button pressing is just an extension of his overall technological intuitiveness. His grandparents love to tell a story that when he was only a few months old, while playing with his crib monitor, he discovered that it could rotate from side to side. Since that day, no one has been able to figure out how he did it.
When I was a young whipper snapper, I was considered the IT guy of my family. I remember getting calls from my mom asking when I had the time, could I shoot over to my grandmother’s place in Breezy to take a look at her TV? I had no extensive knowledge of giant box TVs, but I never minded taking the trip down to hit the power button a few times, switch an input, or unplug and replug it in, only to be lauded over as a Mensa level genius, who today got Oprah on TV and tomorrow would be sending people to Mars.
Today, technology is my archnemesis. Just ask the Rockaway Times website — you would not believe some of the profanities I have hurled in its binary direction. A pirate would blush. How did I go from being Steve Jobs to Grandpa Steve?
Growing up with this stuff, it just becomes secondhand. The technology you are exposed to from birth just seems to inherently make sense. Even in schools today, everything revolves around technology. Every student has either a tablet or a laptop and their day-to-day schooling as well as homework involves those devices. When I was in school, we took “computer class,” where we learned what a keyboard was and played The Oregon Trail. Heck, I’m sure many of you reading this took a class on typewriting!
My nephew loves a button, but he also knows how to work our Alexa and how to turn a TV on and off at less than two years old (Something his great-grandmother never fully grasped in her 80 years). What is he going to be able to do in a few years? And as new technology continues to roll out, what will I be calling him to come help me with? “Tommy, can you swing by this afternoon? My VR headset is on the fritz again!”
We hear a lot about the negatives of a life raised by technology. About how we need to keep a watchful eye on kids and their relationship to, and sometimes dependence on, these devices. I am in profound, unequivocal agreement with this trepidation. (For example, I am a firm believer that almost all social media, at all ages, is a desolate hellscape of echoing balderdash — but that is most certainly for another column). With that said, I also love to imagine the possibilities. All the good we are in store for when these children grow up and can take this intuitive knowledge of technology and apply it to creating better and more advanced … well, everything! Who knows what they’ll dream up? I just hope I am there to sit back and enjoy the show.