‘Back when I was your age, I never…’

column by elliemulligan


Mull-ing it over with Ellie Mulligan

We all know the feeling. You’re sitting there on your phone, scrolling through Facebook or checking your email, when you see the glimmer of hope in your parent’s eye. Oh no, you think. Here it comes.

And then they say it. They start a sentence with those five horrible words and smile proudly, feigning offence, once they finish it. “When I was your age, I never sat around on my phone.” You roll your eyes, maybe stomp away and mutter something resentful under your breath.

I’ll admit it. It’s annoying and disrespectful when people are sitting on their phone or laptop instead of talking to you.

There’s a fine line between catching up on the group chat and leaving reality to be absorbed by Twitter.

Still, I don’t think it’s exactly fair for parents to be nagging us about checking our phones. It’s not exactly our fault that we happened to be living while the most relevant technological advance in modern history came about.

What a lot of parents don’t realize is that our generation’s “obsession” with iPhones and MacBooks is just the result of a generational gap. You wouldn’t hear parents in the 50’s yelling at their kids over an obsession with the polio vaccine.

The reality is that phones, tablets and laptops are all just more useful. It’s not that past generations had a longer attention span, it’s just that, frankly, all the relevant inventions of their time were kind of the worst.

It would be weird for a kid in 1945 to spend as much time with a microwave or a ballpoint pen as we do with an iPhone. More recently, can you imagine your own parent in the 80’s sitting, staring blankly at a Doppler Radar while their parents nagged them? That’s called clinical insanity.

The only reason that teens today use their phones so much is that they are useful — arguably more useful on a daily basis than the polio vaccine. Our phones connect us to our friends and family, whether they’re five feet or 5,000 miles away.

While seeing your friend laugh over FaceTime is better than a simple “lol” over text, it’s still equally meaningful to cherish the time and memories you have with your family by being a part of the conversation.

Even though the inventions of generations past pale in comparison to today’s touch screen smart phones and laptops, it’s still important to take out the headphones every now and then and listen up.

Sometimes a simple iMessage or text is all it takes to make you smile, but there is truly nothing like a physical back-and-forth conversation between family or friends. However, don’t feel guilty just because you feel a compulsive need to refresh Twitter. Just like everything, social media absorption is best in moderation.

So next time your parents are getting on your back about being on your phone, just remind them that the equivalent invention of their adolescence was a Cabbage Patch Kid, but afterwards save yourself from a full-on brawl by politely participating in the conversation.

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