January 5, 2010
I'm writing you another birthday greeting in a form known to Neanderthals like me as a letter. I only realized how strange it must have seemed to you last birthday season when I actually ask you questions (as if you can respond). I guess if I was born in the mid-nineties that would seem tedious, outdated, and ridiculous all in one spoonful. You must be used to responding directly and instantly to anything that comes your way.
Before the web it wasn’t that uncommon to ask a question for the sake of making the person you’re asking strew in their own mental juices. You know, turning it over in their heads a few wash cycles before giving some words to the thoughts they hatch. I didn’t realize what a luxury this was. It’s not only thinking before speaking (which any sane person does) but actually analyzing from different angles and coming up with several approaches because you’re looking for the best answer – not the easiest to checkbox through the multiple choices (and get a passable grade).
But the thing that really blows my mind (I hope I’m not boring you, Harry) is that IM and texting means that the line has blurred between thought and action. It used to be that what you were thinking was held in the privacy of your brain. You could pass notes under the desk to the kid in back of you but then risk ticking off the teacher, and worse, having them read your note to the whole class. The good thing about this is that it made you think before sharing your angst or rushes to judgment (when we shouldn’t be rushing or judging).
Nowadays all bets are off. The minute the slightest irritation grabs hold you can Tweet it out your ears and have it live on in FaceBook for perpetuity. That’s an awesome responsibility for 140 characters in a text string to handle. But it’s even more daunting to figure out in retrospect whether that message would actually help to shape or change the course of events because now everyone can see the writing on my FaceBook Wall.
Is sharing what you’re thinking the same thing as taking some form of action now that you’ve hit
I guess the last thing that I’ll say besides a belated happy birthday is that I hope you like the gift. It’s one I might have actually wanted when I turned 15 but not so much by 16 so I had to sneak it in before you get too much older.
Have a great year, Harry, and remember what I told you last year -- hindsight is 20:20 but Teddy Ballgame's is 20:10.