Baker’s Good Cell Phone Advice [OPINION]
It was the best of technology, it was the worst of technology.
Cell phones are here to stay but are we better off for them? Of course, we are, but often times too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Cell phones are a prime example of that.
Last Sunday, Governor Charlie Baker delivered the commencement address for the Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School's class of 2019. Baker's message to the graduates was as plain and simple as it gets: put down your cell phone.
Like me, Baker grew up in a time before cell phones. People communicated face to face. We interacted on a personal level. There was no texting, emailing, Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram. We looked at each other in the eye and spoke to each other. Out loud.
The world is a bit more complex today with breaking news traveling at the speed of light and messages sent around the globe in real time. Answers to burning questions are instantaneous and a world of knowledge is available at our fingertips. You don't just give that up to go back to the simpler times when Wally and The Beav roamed the Earth, and banana seats and Pro-Keds were all the rage. But we must learn to harness the technology or it rules us.
The Cape Cod Times says Baker told the grads, "Your phone has no humanity. It feeds on distance and outrage. Most of what comes flying over social media is noise, and you need to know that. It's not the real world. The real world is here and now; it's your parents, your family, your teachers, your friends, and your co-workers. The ones who find a way to be physically, emotionally and personally present with you whenever they're with you. They would stand in front of a moving vehicle to save your life."
Baker's message is right on, but kids learn by example. Too often parents spend their precious time with their kids with their nose buried deep in the cell phone. They miss many teachable moments and opportunities that way. They lose time that can never be regained. The kids learn this to be acceptable behavior and emulate it.
When kids disengage and get lost inside their phones, it is a behavior they have usually learned from us. Cell phones are wonderful inventions if used properly and sparingly. Parents must teach children about moderation and lead by example.
We can never un-invent the cell phone, but we must learn how to use the technology in a way that benefits society and doesn't break it down.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.