As a 17-year-old, I am part of the last generation raised before The Smartphone Era. My baby photos are glued into scrapbook instead of stored on laptops. The movies I watched as a child were on big boxy tapes and not slim DVDs. I learned everything in kindergarten from real textbooks, instead of an iPad.
All the children born in the generation after mine, the ones born just a few years ago, won’t ever know the world I knew in my early days. Their lives will be heavily affected by technology from the very beginning, always having fast and easy access to information.
Technology is a great thing in that it advances society and helps us accomplish our goals efficiently, but with an increase in technology comes a decrease in person-to-person communications and hand-on connections to the earth. As someone with life experience in both a world without mobile devices and a world run by mobile devices, I feel it’s important to keep my roots in the world as it used to be. I don’t want to become a zombie, attached to my cell phone, letting life go by without really experiencing things.
I want to live an intentional life, enjoying each moment and connection with people and places. It’s about mindfulness, which is being present in the moment and aware of your surroundings. This is important because it allows you to connect with people. It’s nearly impossible to be entirely present when a cell phone is distracting you.
I want to do things with my own hands, to maintain an authenticity in my life. I like talking to people face to face instead of through screens where you can’t see the emotions on their face, or read their body language. I like mailing hand-written letters to people so they can have something tangible to remind them that I care. I like drawing with markers and creating my own artwork. Even though I can go buy things like candles, pillows and soaps, I like to make my own because putting effort into something always makes a more personal gift.
My uncle Galen told me a story once. Back in the days before air conditioning, on a hot summer day, people sat on their porches, drinking lemonade and chatting with their neighbors. Today, when it’s really warm outside, people are inside, where it’s cool. The purpose of air conditioning was not to isolate us from our neighbors, but that was the end result. The lesson in this is – use technology, but don’t let it use you. Don’t be the first to jump on every new technology. Think about how you might incorporate it into your life and the benefits and potential downfalls.
I grow my own vegetables, I write my essays by hand, and listen to music on record albums instead of iTunes because I see the value in keeping some things old school. Modern times lack a certain realness to me, like things just aren’t as genuine as they used to be. Doing things the fastest and easiest way isn’t always the best way.
Editor’s Note: 17-year-old Allison Ervin is the daughter of VP of Marketing Glenda Lehman Ervin, niece of CEO Galen Lehman and granddaughter of founder Jay Lehman. She has been writing and blogging since the age of 9.