Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Modern entertainment

In the following post, I finally make the full transition to grumpy old man moaning about how things were better "in the good old days"...

Yesterday, I was having my hair cut, when a chap walked into the Barber's shop with his son (about eight years old) and sat down waiting for their appointments.  I heard the father ask the boy "did you bring your iPad with you?"  "No, I forgot", was the rueful response.  "Well, you're going to be bored, then, aren't you?!"


Why should the boy be bored, because he forgot his iPad?  I've nothing against iPads (indeed, I have one myself, and I love it!) nor against electronic forms of entertainment in general - but the idea that, without these electronic devices, one's existence is nothing but vast expanse of unrelenting boredom seems a little severe.

I started to think, when I was eight years old (and nobody had iPads), and I was sitting waiting somewhere with my Dad (possibly for a haircut), how would we have amused ourselves?  We could've played "I Spy", or some sort of word game.  We could've made up some game from watching the other customers coming and going, or from the rhythmic clack-clacking of the barber's scissors.  Or we could just have talked.

Yeah, that's probably what we would've done.

Why do people need to be "entertained" all the time, these days?  Not every second of you life has to be filled with the most fun you can possibly imagine having.  It is possible just to be, sometimes - to talk, to reflect, to contemplate - without having to fill your time with high-intensity hair-raising fun and excitement.  (Or, at least, things that are supposed to be fun and exciting - all the stuff you're supposed to enjoy is never as good as you're always told it's meant to be!  But that's really a topic for another time...)

When I was a child, I never understood other children who always "got bored", unless they were being provided with some sort of activity to amuse and distract them.  I still don't.

It is just one short step from here to sitting out in a lawn chair in front of my house, smoking a pipe, and shouting "damn hooligans!" at a gang of kids riding past on bicycles, before muttering something about "the war" into my nicotine-stained beard.