Some years ago, the word selfie did not even exist.
But all that has changed. Selfie is defined by Wikipedia, as ‘a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a digital camera or camera phone held in the hand or supported by a selfie stick. Selfies are often shared on social networking services such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.’
So, selfie as a word and the act thereof, defines, for me, the selfie-shness of generation Z, these kids born from 1995 to date. These kids are the most technologically savvy generation. They seem to be born with an innate knowledge of how to operate phones and computers; leave a 4-year-old with your phone and he’ll open apps and do things you never knew possible with the phone you’ve been carrying around for more than one year.
Expectedly, their higher level of knowledge in technology will open vistas in academics and life as we know it, in general, and this of course will mean more opportunities for them but these kids are missing out on much of life.
A few years ago, we went on a family holiday to IITA Resort in Ibadan; the research institute with breath-taking forests and greenery and open vast lands. Despite the open fields that inspires one to run wild like Usain Bolt, the lawn tennis courts that challenge you to feel like taking on Serena Williams and an Olympic size swimming pool that fools you into thinking you’re Michael Phelps; despite the more than one thousand trees and open roads that undulate and stretch endlessly, despite the cool arcades and tree-shaded areas that stimulate you to just breathe and observe nature; all the kids at the resort, as if in singular agreement, all of them just focused on the free Wi-Fi available.
They downloaded games and apps, snap chatted with friends, (by the way, we whatsapp while they snapchat), watched movies, had all their fun on their devices and excluded parents and guardians who mostly sat idly and drank in the environment.
I overheard a few parents scolding their wards to drop their devices and play, I demanded mine submit their phones to me which they reluctantly did but after a couple of hours watching kids with long faces and receiving monosyllabic replies to my cheerful enquiries, I gave them back their phones!
Na una sabi!
Ha! In my days, I would have gone crazy rolling and skipping in the vast open green fields. I would have attempted to climb all the 1,000 trees; I would have swam…(I can’t swim but if I could swim) I would have swam 100 laps every day until my black skin turned white. I would have wandered far until a search party was arranged for me…I would have…
But my kids and all the kids at the resort shamed me, they shamed us adults as they stuck fast to the rooms and when we insisted, they went out to the lawns but never lifted their heads to drink in the view or even take a scenic photo with those darned devices they stared at!
So they missed the different plants, the rocks, the sands, the huge lake running on the side, the trees, the rain as it fell heavy and matted the earth turning it muddy brown. Instead, they skipped to avoid the puddles, whereas I wanted to wade in it. They ran from the rain when I wanted to soak in it. All they did was search for signal strengths on their devices like robots with glazed eyes and they only looked up when the signals failed.
How will these grow up to care for people around them when they are more concerned about signals and waves and pokemons and people they can’t even touch?
This is a generation driven by technology; we oldies must accept it. Two or three years ago, my children school’s administration made it compulsory for all the students in secondary class to own a laptop for learning and taking notes, submitting homework, et all. In short, the laptop was meant as substitute for our good old exercise books and Bic biros.
Now, the laptop parents reluctantly had to pay for wasn’t the normal types you picked from computer stores, no, these were customised mini laptops for students and we were told that kids wouldn’t be able to play games nor watch movies on them.
Fa fa fa fooouull!
I remember the many meetings parents had with the school arguing against this, because the cost apart, many parents felt the kids would be distracted and the laptops would eventually be of no value.
The school of course assured us they knew what they were doing. We are in the IT age, they reminded us, ‘everything is digital, these laptops will prepare the kids for the future.’ The laptops were coded, kids would be given Wi-Fi password only on a need to have basis and can only log in to submit assignments and copy notes from their various teachers.
Or so the school figured…until the kids began to break into the school’s system and get the password even before it was released. The school checkmated them by changing the password every day, yet the kids broke through every day to the utter amazement of the IT teacher and his staff. It was a free for all; kids downloaded movies, music and all kinds of games. Soon, the only use the laptops were for was pure entertainment.
A few culprits were made scapegoats, as I heard but many more ‘geniuses’ were born in their stead! Kids could dismantle the laptop and reassemble them just for the heck of it! Though the school still claims, rather lamely too, that the decision for laptops over ink and paper remains the best and in the interest of the kids and therefore still pursuing that goal; I’ll prefer the handling of books and pens over stylus and a Notepad, for now.
This (mis)adventure has helped parents discover how our kids can be ingenious and yet selfish with their devices; once they are engaged on it, we have ‘peace’. It’s almost as if we are glad they are glued to their screens rather than being on the streets as sitting ducks for kidnappers or some evil fate we hope to shield them from.
These ones I fear, will only care for me, myself and I. ‘Seen a teenage girl’s phone recently? It’s just full of pouty selfies and the latest styles in town, the boys aren’t far behind either; they stare down, adopting what they think are manly stares. These are all the photos you see. Once in a while, a mum or dad makes it into their photo album but only very few shots are saved.
This generation is too self-involved; I see funny stuff on Facebook, people wishing themselves a happy birthday, ‘Happy birthday to me’. Meaning there’s no other person to do the wishing for you, abi? Funny people.
At home, the only way to get my kids out of their rooms is to switch off the WiFi router. Turn it off and in seconds, they would come out of their rooms like startled roaches out of the dark to check what went wrong with the router.
See these people? They could be in their rooms all day and won’t know what’s going on outside. Not good at all.
So once they come out, I always insist on time together. I also insist on them not wearing ear plugs while with family, ‘Let’s hear what you sound like, plugging your ears when you are with your family is rude’ I maintain. “You are with family, you should pay attention to family!’ That’s when they look up and slowly begin to talk.
Has it worked 100 per cent?
But the few times I have got them engaged, have been good times.