On a bike ride with the kid in tow, I was having a debate about Netflix originals. “Dad, I can’t think of a good Netflix original,” he said. To the company’s defense, I cried out, “What about Stranger Things?” I forget, he hasn’t seen it yet. When pushed to describe the setting, I told him it was around the time I grew up. Yes, that was decades ago, but the force remains strong in the golden years. Hairbands dominated the airwaves. Bicycles were the primary mode of transportation. It was also the age of hide-and-go-seek, board games, and the walkie-talkie (tech at its finest). On a clear night, tuned to the perfect frequency with little obstruction, you could talk to your friends two blocks over. No sneaking out required.
As I described how it worked, he tilted his head, puzzled. “Isn’t that an iPhone?” he asked.
“Oh, no,” I countered. “Far cooler. I mean, you pushed this button, talked into the microphone, and then when you were done waited for your friends to chime in.” As my eleven-year-old self awakened, I became giddy. There was only one word that came to mind. “Epic, son. Trust me.”
“That’s stupid, Dad,” he replied, pedaling faster. “An iPhone can do that and more. You can’t name one thing a walkie-talkie can do better.”
“If the internet and cell towers were down, I could still talk to my friends,” I answered. As I smirked in triumph, he shook his head and rode on ahead. His iPhone tracked his mileage the entire way.
- The picture is from the greatest handheld communication of our time, the GI Joe Field Unit. Thoroughly tested through hours of hide and go seek, tree climbing treks, and late-night adventures.
- And yes, maybe these mobile devices have ruined our ability to communicate with one another.