The other day I was reading a newspaper article called “The Best Apps for Road Trips” I first thought, what a great idea!, then a wave of detachment started to creep into my soul and I had my first epiphany since I heard Jimi’s version of The Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock… this is not a good idea, this is a very bad idea. The thought of Traveling Apps started a Manic Depression inside my head.
So let’s go way back, and remember how we used to commute…Whether it was a 5 minute drive to or from school, a ride to the city to go to the game or a full-blown family road trip vacation, we talked when we travelled, to each other too, not to somebody else who wasn’t even there.
When us Boomers were babies the differences between parents and offspring were as dramatic as the conflict between Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan during The Scopes Trial, but we still talked, to each other, while traveling. As long as my brother kept his stinking paws off me, damn dirty ape, everything was pretty cool and conversational.
Apps, videos, pads and pods are insidious, slowly lowering down on families like a cone of silence where communication between anyone is impossible. Instead of pods under our beds it’s pods played through buds stuck in our heads. Ever wonder what is causing the breakdown of the family? Look, you fools, you’re in danger! Can’t you see?! They’re after you! They’re after all of us! Our wives, our children, everyone! THEY’RE HERE, ALREADY! YOU’RE NEXT! Apologies to Dr. Miles J. Bennell portrayed by the late Kevin McCarthy in the great Sci-Fi classic, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, but this rant is right on, if not downright prescient.
Our drives used to be in cars with bench seats, sometimes (gasp) without seat belts, with no cup holders and a can’t-get-any-station AM radio, 90% of the people who tried to bring something to read got car sick before they hit the on-ramp, the other 10% came in real handy when it was time to consult a road map. So we had to talk or look out the window and let our minds wander a bit which is also a pretty good experience, but now the question is: When’s the last time you’ve been experienced?
So let’s make a pact. Put the devices away for at least 80% of all drives. From now on we talk to each other, family, friends or hitchhikers (remember those?) while we’re commuting.
Isn’t it ironic that the things kids and many parents are shoving in their ears are called “Buds”? a little too ironic, if you really do think. How about if we go back to being “Buds”, with Dad & Mom still wielding executive power of course. Ask your kids how they’re doing? what’s going on? anything new? tell them a story. they’ll talk. eventually. they always do. A little Freudian Free Association can tell you a lot about yourself and your kids. No matter what age, we all get around to saying the darndest things.
If we don’t get back to discourse we are on the course to not knowing our own families and that would be a real tragedy.
Paraphrasing the final line from Field Of Dreams, you’ll never forget when your kid says, “hey dad, you wanna have a chat?”