Childhood, Where are They?
I remember when I could curl up on the couch and stay there for hours. The vivid pictures of characters clearly written on the pages in front of me. Books, where have they gone from my life? Have they gone back to the world from which they came, to the lands I may never reach with my feet? Nowadays, I see no more of the mystical lands that books promise with their printed ink. Nowadays, I see flashing lights on a flat box, never to be able to tear my eyes away. Oh, Childhood, how I miss you. You were the days of time; you never gave me to the screen but gave me books. Nowadays I see you have stopped giving children books, but you give them flat screens. The children are in the corner, with lights flashing on their faces and headphones on their ears. I no longer see books in their hand, I no longer see them, and I only see The Silent Generation.
We, the Generation of Screens, do read, but what we are doing is not reading. The texts in the mornings, the ads in the afternoon, the audiobooks at night; we are being overloaded. Fahrenheit 451 has hinted at our future. “The idiot TV” (Bradbury 184), the iPhone, the iPad, the smartwatch, the computer are feeding information we do not question. Dear Childhood, where have you gone wrong? You “bombard people with sensation” (Bradbury 184) and leave them empty, empty without the screen. They reach for it and never let go; dear Childhood, you have created screen addicts who are prepped and ready for the new iPhone. All you had to do was “hand them a book, that’s all” (Bradbury 190). But no, the screen, the screen is all that you give and offer.
Is it really your fault Childhood, is it? Is it the parents’ fault, the teachers’ fault, society’s fault, or all of our faults? Have we been “taught reading and writing,” (Bradbury 183) have the teachers won the battle, or have they lost? Are those children, the ones given screens, already lost to the flashing box of light? Have the “ordinary people … turn[ed] away from reading and the habit of thought and refection it encourages” (Bradbury 183)? The turning, the thinking, the analyzing, the questioning, and the remolding of the brain, are they gone? Have the “ordinary people” turned their backs on education? Do they not rethink information, do they just “click off [their] thinking” (Bradbury 184). Do they not fear censorship? Have the “ordinary people” made society the way it is? Did they make the choice for us? Have we, the “ordinary people,” chosen our fates?
We have given ourselves willingly to the screen that sucks our time by the hours. We have sacrificed small things that we will never be able to take back: Eating together at a table, sleeping, experiencing boredom, and, in turn, creativity. We severed the connection between people because of a screen. What have we done? The books are dying and the screens are thriving as the years pass. What have we done, dear Childhood? “Without the library, you have no civilization” (Bradbury 184). Are we no longer a civilization? Childhood, I have given up, books are gone, and the screen is staying.
The Generations of Screens
Bradbury, Ray. “Conversation with Ray Bradbury.” Ballantine Books, 2003.