We’ve all heard the moral panic: texting is ruining language! Tinder has destroyed modern love!! Facebook has KILLED FRIENDSHIP AS WE KNOW IT.
And yes—I’ll admit that I get annoyed when brunch is interrupted by constant Instagramming. I don’t especially like seeing beautiful women in my ex’s new profile pic. And yeah, Tinder isn’t my favorite thing—if I wanted a bunch of strange men to ask me to sit on their faces, I would hang out at a frat house or a Greyhound Bus station.
But still, anyone who thinks that technology has ruined EVERYTHING has never had all their friends online at the same time. Or kept up a romance with someone two continents away. Or even just felt that little surge of joy that comes from a perfectly executed selfie.
The idea that kids today have RUINED EVERYTHING with their newfangled nonsense is not a new one, anyway. Way back in 1790, Reverend Enos Hitchcock wrote, “The free access which many young people have to romances, novels, and plays has poisoned the mind and corrupted the morals of many a promising youth.”
He was probably just bitter because his parents named him Enos, but still. When trains became a thing, people worried that women weren’t designed to go 50-miles an hour, and their uteruses would go flying out of their bodies.
Even back in 100 BCE, ancient Roman philosopher Cicero was whining: “Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.”
Smart phones might be new, but grumpy old men are old as time.
They’re just jealous that they didn’t get to grow up in our awesome sci-fi generation. We can have friends on the other side of the globe. We can share art and music and Orange is the New Black even if we’re worlds apart. We can have whole careers that didn’t exist five years ago, we can order Pad Thai without picking up the phone, and we can survive uncomfortable parties by texting our friends the whole time (even if it’s just that turtle emoji over and over again).
And let’s be real about the whole Tinder thing, because dating has always been an awkward hellscape, there have always been seedy matchmaking services, and Millennials are actually having sex with fewer partners than previous generations (just ask your parents what really went down in the seventies).
So yeah, technology isn’t completely perfect. I can’t be the only person who’s walked into a lamppost while texting on the street. But, I also can’t see how talking to far-off friends and watching YouTube clips of puppies is destroying my life. It’s actually making life pretty darn great.
Douglas Adams pretty much sums it up:
- Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
- Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
- Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.