Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dear Sons, Tell Google To Kiss Your... Wait I Have A Notification! BRB!

Dear Boys;

Once upon a time, in the last of so freaking long ago, when your mom was your age, there was no such thing as the internet. Yes, now pick up your jaw, you dropped it. Kids in their teens played board games or went outside for fun and to socialize. They waited until they got to school to tell each other everything and they rarely called on the house phone (yes a house phone, pay attention!) to gossip because parents wouldn't allow it.

Now I know you've all thought me harsh when I bought you all cell phones (once you all were teens and not a second before) and they only came with calling capabilities, no text and no data plan for you. But the phones were and still are what I consider a resource, a tool for emergencies. PERIOD. No one needs to be texting (OR EVEN CALLING) you while you're in school, because, WELL. YOU. ARE. IN. SCHOOL. Unless of course it's me or your dad and it's an emergency.

I love technology and you all know I'm all about the next best greatest TOOL that is discovered but all this "instant" communications" and "social media" technology is what I call "easy street to a loser's life". You can't live online. You can't experience life if you are too busy hashtagging, instagraming every meal and tweeting about every bowel movement. Worse still, you can't pay any of the damn bills either if you are too busy being distracted with what the rest of the world is doing!

Now, people will say that your mom lives on the computer but you all know the deal. I PLAN for my time on here and yes, sometimes I get carried away and instead of the allotted hour I look up and three have gone by! It is seductive to be where you can get an immediate response (sometimes) from people but it's not living. This is why I wanted you to grow up knowing what it's like to go outside, play with friends outside, not stay inside playing video games. Sure I must sound like all the other old timers but you know me. YOU KNOW ME! I see some of the apps you download and I know you're paying attention. You download utilities, yes! Rarely do you download games. You do pay attention! (Unless I ask to take out the garbage, or come home early, why is that?)

Let me just school you on these companies and not to put all the blame on Google, although they took the proverbial football and ran with it across the entire cyber universe! They do what mommy does, they gather data. They gather data all day long, the same as I once did when I worked in the department Data Extraction and Manipulation. (yes, this is why the Mayor and Chancellor called me a Rabble Rouser but I digress...) Mommy used to get information from many applications being used by her company. This was all so that I could generate reports for all the executives or any Managers that wanted a progress report. Now what I learned in the department is that I could actually make any report sound great (happy, happy, joy, joy!) or not so great. (OMG, WTH, we're in for it now!) That my darlings is called SPIN. I can spin great news or I could spin bad news because what the Managers wanted as an end result was what dictated that. The final numbers wasn't important to them, what they wanted from the people reading the reports was! Ok, let me break it down for you. All these apps track everything you do on it. After a while computers can estimate what you next step will be, so based on everything you're reading online, every movie or TV show on Hulu you watch, everything you buy (with mom's debit card) on Amazon, they start to send you commercials, in your gmail on the right of your screen or in the ads on your FB so that YOU will do what THEY want you to do, which is download something or buy something. Get it?

So don't "live your life" online boys and don't give companies any reason to try to sell you anything. There is so much more out here in this world than what the rest of the world is doing or the latest download can provide you. Don't be a statistic or unknowingly a participant in some company's crazy survey. Love the technology but don't let it dictate how you're going to live your life and for all the data collected in the world, be unique and spontaneous and responsible. Cellphones (along with the computers and gaming consoles) are tools, to be used to enhance your life, not take that away or dictate how you will spend your days.

I was talking on the phone to my BFF the other day and we were talking about it all. How people tell their lives, in excruciatingly painful detail, on social media networks AND how life changing doing something like that can be! What do I tell you??? Do not post anything that may affect your ability to live your life or get a J-O-B! Also, aside from the fact that this English language loving mother of yours cringes at the "HORRIDNESS" that has befallen my beloved language, how do some people communicate at all is beyond me!(yes, I made up a word because apparently we can all do that now, we don't have to wait for Merriam or Webster to do it!) When he spoke to the time when people had to wait until they got home to make phone calls and now people are dying left and right because they can't get their heads out of their asses because they absolutely positively have to spend every waking minute talking on their cell phones - WHILE THEY ARE DRIVING, I knew times truly had changed.

You are all of driving age now and so I want you all to tell Google and Pinterest and Instagram and Facebook and Youtube to kiss your backsides because your attention is on what matters! Your attention is on what's in front of your eyes, like the road and the school book or the smart board in the classroom or the face of the friend across from the lunchroom table and not texting each other while sitting in the same room. So you see my darlings, I wasn't limiting your life's pleasures by keeping you away from all those things, I was expanding your horizons. Don't let these companies who are only out to keep you distracted and poor dictate to you, you call me and let me know when you are on your way - THAT is an important piece of data for mom - and you use the cell to find your way with a map or to capture a moment you want to remember for posterity, that is what these tools are for.
Remember also to not be driving or doing something else either. Multi-tasking is alternating between two TASKS and walking is not a TASK, driving is not a TASK!

I know you all laugh because it seems I am attached to my phone every day but there are times when I turn it off. I simply get to the point where I've become over saturated with sensory overload. I pick and choose the hours I am available for people. I am not ever available 24/7/365 for anyone. (except you my darlings and the love of my life but that's a whole other set of letters) No, I will not answer every text the second I get it and no I will not call back in five minutes if I am called during my work day. Now, I will reply within a few hours, 24 to 48 hours most definitely, to not do that is rude. The internet and ability to reach out instantly has created some serious etiquette deficiencies out here. People are still people, so be aware and be kind but be firm. Set your times for yourself, just as I taught you, return phone calls and texts out of respect and make your daily schedule so that everything you want to do that day can get done or at least you've taken steps to get them done. Fill your lives with goals and milestones and events with people in the same room and don't live it in your heads, in cyber space or some other lame virtual reality.

Oh and one other thing, when it's me on the other end, all rules don't apply - pick that sucker up! I want you to bring home some cookies!

I love you boys. Be safe and do as I taught you, you'll thank me later, decades later probably but oh, you will thank your crazy tech savvy mom!

Love Mom

Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and now on parenting. She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Her books can be found online: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon

Mother to three amazing self sufficient civic minded sons. Devin Christopher, 24, Fashion Designer, college student in NYC and youngest athletic director ever hired at a major sports complex in NYC. Antonio Fernandez, 20, choreographer, dancer, model, college student in NYC, has already performed with Cyndi Lauper at the Beacon Theatre and simply ready for his close-up. Taylor Aidan, almost 18 (at this release), HS Senior in NYC, amazing singer who is studying to be the next greatest sign language interpreter the world's ever known. (DISCLAIMER: Ok, mom wrote that.)

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