Category Archives: Social Media

Window quest

My Father told me he had to save money for a project of his own. Walking along the street, we spotted a colourful ice-cream van. Bearing in mind what he had just told me before, I tried to suppress my excitement. ‘Shall we have some?’ he asked me. I gave him a perplexed look.

‘No, no… Ice-cream is childhood. And we don’t save from childhood.’

We (1970s-1990s) are the generation of ‘bowed heads’ because of our unconditional love for our mobile phones.

Two-year old kid I know freely browses on YouTube, downloads mobile apps and knows exactly 3 songs by heart. Parents seem proud and content. And they should be – their child is super smart, better educated technologically than they were and cutely running its fingers through iPad with a toothless smile.

It’s sweet and genius isn’t it?

What do you mean by ‘it’s sad’? It’s just the modern substitute for meeting other children at the playground, playing outdoor games, painting, skipping rope and coming home late because of hide-and-seek.

They are just children who enjoy themselves inside. They have a safe, ‘behind-the-door’ childhood. Their friends always like them and parents can keep an eye on them at all times. It’s convenient.

Visiting Cospicua, one of the historic Three Cities in Malta, something long-forgotten crossed my path.

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Five ladies, two dogs and two lady shoulder bags.

It was amusing seeing children on the streets. Obviously, they were oblivious of petfinder.com as a viable option for animal raising.

In fact, all the narrow, full of local charm streets, leading to the dock, were awash with children laughter. Even saw a boy who was fixing his bike chain. Alone!

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I found slightly disturbing he was not using the FAB Bike Doctor app…

Children I met in Cospicua can doubtlessly add a skill to their profile of LinkedIn:

Childhood authenticity management.

Turns out childhood and its genuineness (let me app that word) is a skill.

Of course one has to be granted the opportunity for accessing childhood. But mostly: one has to be able to see this window of opportunity. And you tend to ignore such windows, if you have opened 20 iPad windows.

Walking along the marine, I realised people from Cospicua have the skill to preserve their childhood all the way through to adulthood:

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The wizard of Uz

When Dorothy and the gang of metal, straw and fur reach the great Wizard of Oz – he has the simplest solutions to their problems.

Scarecrow wants a brain – boom, you have it, but here’s a diploma.

Cowardly Lion wishes for courage – boom! Here’s a medal for bravery.

Tinman pleads for a heart – boom! A medallion with a ticking heart.

For every ‘I wish I were’ – expression we just need a tap on the shoulder: ‘You can!’

My grandmother suffered from multicellular sclerosis. One day she stopped spelling rightly. Several months later she couldn’t recognise the letters. There were two choices – to let go or not to let go.

Oblivious of what exactly was going on, what her abilities were at the moment and what the doctors said, I suggested we played games with her. We started with small quizzes, through hangman, to trying to write more complicated words. I didn’t know the limit, so I was dispersing courage generously onto her. It didn’t all turn out brilliantly and it wasn’t a story with a happy ending.

Later, I understood it is not the wizard of Oz – the fellow who would occasionally praise us, encourage us and inject us with inspirational ‘can do’ stories. It is the Wizard of Uz – the starting point.

The inner-dialogue which connects Uz to ourselves. A connection which I believe ‘digital world’ weakens considerably. We are now seemingly connected to all the rest of the world; we have thousands of real friends and always somebody willing to listen, comment, like, share and re-tweet.

In the past months, I’ve been researching whether there is a way to better connect to myself, shout down the unnecessary, intrusive voices and opinions and turn to myself with trust. Getting ready to listen to myself turned out to be really hard, as I have lost my own voice. With my eyes closed, I could only hear expectations and opinions of others. But one of those voices actually managed to be of help and present to my attention the option of non-religious self-discovery practice, called Vipassana.

Due to reasons outside my scope, I wouldn’t be attending Vipassana in 2013. But I successfully provide myself with what I’d like to call ‘A digital Vipassana’. This encompasses the deletion of tools like Whatsapp, Viber and Facebook as primary sources of confusion at this very moment. Conversations about consumers’ overload of choices are endless – have you noticed there’s no such thing as ‘pause’ or ‘offline’ in Whatsapp? How about the heart-breaking goodbye message of Facebook “Leo, Kate and Joseph would miss you”…?

Yes, I should feel very guilty for ‘leaving’ all my friends from The Public Laundry.

Now I am living the old kind of life – sending postcards and letters, talking to people on the bus, actually opening my mouth to ask for directions and sometimes I even find myself playing with the sand or sitting on a bench, doing nothing.

My brave prediction is that 20 years from now (if not less), there’d be workshops for ‘Face-to-face communication’ where you would become certified if you’ve managed to talk to 10 other people for a month. Of course, some would question the face-to-face bit.

“Nah, they probably mean Facebook-to-Facebook here.”

Face-to-face is already starting to become vintage. Let alone you-to-you communication. It’s ominous.

“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”…

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