SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Texting in a Winter Wonderland


January 16, 2012

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska
- Twas a couple of days after Christmas, snow was on the ground and…..
jpg Dave Kiffer

Well, all was pretty silent in the neighborhoods on the hills above town.

Once upon a time, there would have been dozens of youngsters trying out their Christmas toys.

Sleds, toboggans or even that old piece of plastic visqueen from the garage. All of that would be accompanied, of course, with the shrieking and shouting of kids having fun in the snow. Certainly a rare, but always welcome sound in Ketchikan.

This year, no dice.

Now, to be honest, it wasn’t a big snowfall, only a couple of inches at most, and it didn’t last much longer than the early afternoon. But time was, in those days of yore,  that would have been enough to bring out “Ketchikan: The Next Generation” in droves.

This year it didn’t. And to be honest that much bigger snow back before Thanksgiving didn’t exactly draw the kiddies out much either.

I guess they are just too attached to their virtual worlds. Probably playing the snowball fight app on their brand new IPads.

But first a confession.

This year we got Liam a Nook and Santa brought me an IPad. I Just wanted you to know that we also have met the enemy and it is us! Of course, we started down the slippery – if not snowy – slope last year when Liam got a Wii system. I have already noticed that he prefers to play games on his Madden12 rather than watch an actual football game on the TV. That of course drives me crazy because my idea of a lovely interactive afternoon involves chips, soda, the couch and whatever game is on.

Just a brief interjection from Charlotte here to note that neither Liam nor I are doing the “right thing.”

We should be engaging in a good brisk walk in the real world.

But I digress.

Enough about us.

What’s up with all those kids who should be outdoors – it was Christmas break after all – enjoying themselves in the winter weather?

Well, I’m sure they are entertained in the virtual world, with their blinky toys.

Kids don’t get sleds and skates anymore. They get “platforms” and apps.

Of course, there is an upside. It doesn’t matter if there is snow or if the lakes freeze over. They will still be entertained.

And – people always remind me – they are learning a valuable skill, how to manipulate a computer. Which will be handy, assuming they all grow up to be “pilots” who command “predator drones.” Or space rangers who need to use the special zirconia flash torpedos in order to reach level  seventy three on the planet Astroflub.

Dang it, another digression.

Oh, kids still get warm winter clothes for Christmas. They must be warm on the way to school on winter days. And there need to be pockets and inside spaces to fit e-readers and electro-pads. The gloves are smaller though. No longer will we see the big mittens and moon gloves. Too difficult to manipulate the keys and text while walking.

Of course, I exaggerate. It is only our teens and older who are so outfitted. You flatter yourselves to think so.

Seven year olds and younger now consider it their consumer due to get electronic gadgets and pocket gamers from their parents for Christmas and birthday. If you don’t think so, have a child and see how many years before you start to hear it.

I think it was about four years ago, when Liam – then about seven – first asked when he could have a cell phone. My first thought was “who the heck does he need to call?” But it wasn’t about calling. It was about the “games” that come on such devices. After all, it would be a great tragedy if he had to spend a single nano-second of downtime actually alone with his thoughts rather than “entertained” by a pocket blinky toy.

Sure, you laugh, but when was the last time you saw a youngster with his or her head up as they walked down the street? Fortunately, the fancier gizmos are now coming with “collision avoidance” systems, otherwise we would all be bumping in to each other 24/7.

Looking outside, I see it is snowing again. Once upon a time, that would cause excitement and youth trepidation because, this being Ketchikan, no go snowfall ever lasts long enough, if you are a kid.

Fortunately,  now there is an app that recreates sliding down a hill on a toboggan or sled. It even has the point where you go airborne off the little snow bumps.

But the not the spine-jarring bump when you land.

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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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