Today’s guest letter comes from Ryan Eland, father of Adeline. Ryan resides in Tempe, AZ by way of Seattle, Washington. This is his third post on The Dad Letters.
My name is Ryan Eland and I am a dad – clearly. Before that I am a husband. And before that, I am a child to a perfect dad. For a job, I do things with websites. I like board games – really, I do. I also like to drink delicious coffee and swim. Finally, I am ecstatic to be able to contribute to this great blog. I hope you enjoy my occasional thought explosions.
I have a codependent relationship with technology. Mine is the first generation tasked to sort out constant connectivity. The Boomers were wounded from the emotional distance of their parents – think Don Draper. My generation suffers from broken homes. You are going to suffer wounds related to our distractedness and lack of presence.
As a generation, we have terrible boundaries with technology – specifically persistent connectivity. There is a saying that goes, “if you ever think you need to scale back your drinking, you already have a drinking problem.” This maxim is true for people my age with connectivity. We inherently know that something is unhealthy. So many of us, myself included, take extended breaks from social media to recalibrate and refresh our lives. We haven’t figured this thing out yet.
Consider the modern dining experience. We use Google Maps to find our way. We browse Yelp to decide our meal. We snap a photo, apply a filter and take 20 minutes to form a witty caption. Dessert hasn’t arrived before we check for comments.
Intimate moments of connecting are now personal PR opportunities.
I suspect a common refrain twenty years from now, “It’s strange growing up and feeling like a little handheld phone had equal importance as me. I never had their full attention for more than a couple of minutes. Plus, I feel like my personal privacy has been horribly violated. Pictures of me are all over the Internet and they never asked me! They should have held that boundary for me when I was too young to make those decisions myself. I can’t believe that they would USE me like that!”
By the way, the irony of this topic posted on a blog is not lost on me. I should have hand-written you in a wax-sealed envelope – but alas, I don’t have wax, or an envelope.
Adeline, we are the cavemen who discovered fire. We hold in the palm of our hand something powerful, something that will forever alter the course of humanity. But just like fire, we have not learned its danger. We don’t know how to harness it safely.
I believe this to be the great wound that our generation is going to pass to you. For this, I am truly sorry. I say the following without a touch of irony. No piece of technology is more important than you.
You and mom are sitting in the pool right now playing. I can continue to sit on my computer and fuss over this letter… or I can join you.
I choose to join you.