Yes,I do get it! Times change and so does the world with it and it would sound just natural for the kids of today to be different from us. What is noteworthy here is that the process of evolution which supposedly takes millions of years to show an apparent effect seems to have accelerated manifolds over the past two decades thanks to technology! There is no generation gap between us and aaj kal ke bachhe...it is like we are worlds apart. The kids are not at fault,no. It is what the world has become today and we cannot hide our kids in a cocoon and shelter them from advancement...it even sounds weird.
This amalgam of fast paced life,social media,connectivity and digitization has made aaj kal ke bachhe unique and a class of their own. Let me share a few hilarious incidents that arose when the 'then' and 'now' times clashed:
-Smartphones & 'good old' phones
Aaj kal ke bachhe probably just see handsets with cords in movies and antique shops. Landlines are becoming obsolete day by day. I still remember the time when I was a little kid and our house had the only telephone in ten houses. We received calls for our neighbours too and it was our duty as kids to beckon the lucky recepient.
Mobiles are in everyone's hands now and the art of talking on the phone is no fascination any more. The smartphones are now used more for playing games and accessing social media.
A couple of days ago when my brother was visiting with his daughters, I saw his elder one-5 years old,standing and staring at the vintage telephone set we have at our house. When I asked her what she was doing, she looked at me in bewilderment and said,
'You said it is a phone. I have been pressing the buttons but nothing happens. I think I did something to it.' I felt an immense sense of pride that there are still a few things we know how to use better than the kids of today and so, with an air of victory, I picked up the handset and turned the dial as she watched me in utter amazement.
She had never heard the word 'dialtone'!
Yes,aaj kal ke bachhe may have a big technological edge over us but can anything beat the pleasure of slamming down the receiver after an argument? Poking at the screen is not even half the satisfaction. Agree?
-The 'touch' fever
I personally believe that the touch feature is what started it all. It is so easy for little kids to pick up the usage of touch screens. The more the convenience, the more the addiction. These aaj kal ke bachhe are absolutely 'touch' fixated.
Another day, when I went home from work,I saw my daughter in a sullen mood. I had expected to find her happy since her friends had come over during the day. Expecting an account of 'she is not talking to me and I am not her friend anymore for a hundred years', I asked her what the matter was. 'Can we get a new TV?' came the question at me.
'We just got a 52'' TV dear. Why would you want another?' I was a little taken aback,thinking of the amount I had just spent on the huge TV.
'It does not have a touch screen. My friends said that is so 'old school'. Can we please?'
'Old school'? Does she even know what that means? Who buys a touch screen TV?
I wanted to laugh at the weirdness of it but I dared not laugh at the seriousness of her voice.
Social media & lack of social skills
Internet and social media have proverbially brought the world at our fingertips. Everything is right there, at the click of a finger/button but has also brought the danger of vulnerability,internet bullying and harassment at the fingertips of our kids. Moreover,the virtual world and the decreasing use of speech to communicate,thanks to various messaging services and 'emojis'
are decreasing the social skills of aaj kal ke bachhe.
This cartoon says it all:
Another incident that happened at a friend's place. We were all sitting down for lunch when my friend's ten year old said,'Mom where do babies come from?' There was perfect silence and my usually bubbly friend was now fumbling for words and when she didn't find any, she said,'I will explain it to you after lunch,ok?'
'Never mind, I will google it.'
I nearly choked when I heard this and my friend went red with embarrassment. Needless to say, the laptop access of her son was confiscated and she explained the answer to the question in the traditional way,with books and a lot of careful deliberation and some hesitation. Some things are better done the old-fashioned way!
The digital world is redefining everything, sometimes frustratingly so. Playing games no longer means going out to play cricket,football,marbles or just anything. It means gaming consoles and computer/TV screens. Boys no longer boast of the centuries they scored or the wickets they took but of the level of video game they have reached.
know see too much
The Television is very educative. The question is-what is it teaching?
The idiot box nowadays broadcasts just about anything. I wonder if anyone checks the relevance or context of the commercials that play! Why would anyone try and sell sarees on a cartoon channel?
My daughter was watching a historical serial with me when the dreaded ad of a sanitary napkin played on screen and I barely noticed it till she shouted,'Mommy, you need to get this. It will make you fresh all day long. Is it only for girls?' Thankfully,we were the only ones in the room,phew!
Lingerie and condom ads are broadcast during programs with family viewings. It is not even as if we have become a very broad-minded society;more than half of us cannot go and buy either up-front. How do I answer the questions that may follow in case she actually watches the ad? I watch the TV with my daughter with one finger on the button to change channels....just in case!
'You do not get what you want
You get what you negotiate!'
Aaj kal ke bachhe have an inherent skill of negotiation that can put any professional hostage negotiator to shame. They know how to manipulate and demand for things in a way that you are forced to give in. Did our generation unlearn the art as we grew up or were we never as good as them? Either way, they always win.
I bought my daughter an umbrella to carry to school as the rains in Dehradun are pretty unpredictable! She was happy with it until she went to school and discovered that a classmate had one with princess on it.
I was trying to write(and she knows well it is when I lack patience) when she came and said,'Mommy, I need something.'
'Later..can we?' I dismissed her with a hand gesture.
'Okay!' she sadly replied and turned to go.
'Wait!' I felt bad.'What do you need dear?'
'An umbrella!' she replied with an extremely cute smile.
'I just got you one!'
'It doesn't have a princess on it.'
She saw that it wasn't working and immediately changed her strategy.'Mine doesn't have a button on it to open it. The princess one that Anushka has opens with a button.'
'You are a strong girl,you can open it.' I said.
She went to her room and I felt triumphant.
She was back in a few minutes with the umbrella in her hand.
'See Mommy,it takes me so long to open it.My finger hurts and I will get late. The van 'uncle' will leave me behind and then I will run without opening the umbrella and get wet. You want me to get wet?' she asked with eyes that gave me the 'don't you care about me?' look.
Don't expect to read an account of how I tackled the situation...we bought a 'princess' umbrella in the evening!
There are a few battles that we do manage to conquer but the victory often comes with a heavy price.
Another friend narrated this incident at a get-together. She restricted the use of TV for her 2 year old to an hour and to ensure that, hid the TV and set-top box remotes. At evening tea, she summoned her son to come and recite a poem for the 'aunty' who had come over. The boy came and proudly announced,'Sab kuch potty potty kar diya!' She thought the obvious and checked his shorts. Seeing no sign,she asked him again and he repeated the phrase. Sensing something wrong, she rushed to the washroom and saw that he had put all the remotes of the house (including the car's) in the commode. I never asked her how she fished them out.
The generation of today is intelligent,amusing,bright and ingenious. Despite all this, it is a very young generation, the one that needs us along(whether it accepts or not) for a long way yet. We need to sharpen their skills, guard them from over-exposure and when the time is right, let them take flight into this world and take over. If we guide them right, one day we all will smile at their accomplishments and say
'Aaj kal ke bachhe!'