Her voice grew in strength as she told her friend, “With this technology, kids are able to create documents and share it with other kids.” Sitting on this line at the Commack Shoprite, I was thrilled to hear that parents were happy about the collaborative power of Google documents. She then continued and shouted indignantly, “And these documents! Nobody knows about these. Kids can create hidden notes to each other.” I laughed. Out loud. As in LOL. What is with this fear of technology? Should we just freeze time to prevent change? I couldn’t believe how upset this woman was getting with the possibility of her son or daughter writing to another student. I mean, he/she wasn’t asked to log it and get it signed? I was immediately thrust into a similar situation that Danielle Mammolito analyzed in her blog post, “Dangerous Territory.” She wrote, “Surely the people commenting were mistaken. If they only knew the opportunities afforded to all children through technology.” I felt as if I wanted to ease this woman’s pain and share my positive experiences with technology integration. Yet, I also wanted to whisper, “Secret Google documents have the best voice.” I remained silent, but I almost felt the need to soliloquize about how technology is often misrepresented and misread by those who truly believe in the phrase: “We have always done it this way.” In a way, we have.
The brief exchange on the Shoprite line forced me to think about my teenage years and the culture that these mothers were bashing. What did we do before hidden Google documents? How did we get away with writing in secret? Love notes. I smiled in reminiscing the passion that lived within writing a love note to a girl, folding it up tightly to prevent others from seeing my drawn hearts, getting it to her in class through a process of four students passing it without the teacher knowing, glancing up to see her reaction, and praying that a return note would be on its way. Although fun, the process was slow and required too much risk! Imagine having access to collaborative documents with a timestamp and a revision history?! I could have even saved five dollars on the New Kids on the Block poster and just pulled in a picture of Donnie/Jonathan/Joey/Danny/Jordan/Mark using the Explore feature. By the way, the poster didn’t work. I was sent home from Shopper’s Village crying. If only emojis existed to express and assuage my sadness.
In addition to risky note writing, I remember the process of placing two pieces of paper in the top holes of a blank cassette tape to make a mixtape containing songs that would speak to my teenage feelings. I would throw in Lionel Richie, 112, some Mariah Carey, NSync, Celine Dion, and Jewel. Jewel…she always seemed to work. A mixtape. Somebody reading this blog post is saying, “A mixtape. Ha! We had eight tracks and we walked six miles to school.” That is the point. Although culture shifts, the same acts that we all did as teenagers still exist today. Just on another platform. Maybe even on a shared Google document. How do we embrace it? Why would we try to deny and defy it? Let’s brainstorm ways to be fine with being techie. Perhaps this mother just wanted reassurance that her child would be fine. Next time, I will break out in Lionel Richie. I will now use Pandora for practice.