Our home this morning was like an offshore call center. “Customer service, how may I help you”? Except that the helping was all done for family. Parents were having trouble getting online to video chat with the little one and Vinod was trying to help figure out how to work it. Here’s the enactment.
Vinod: “I can’t see you online. Maybe you are not logged in.”
Dad: “But I am signed in.”
Vinod: “Can you see a green dot on your screen?”
Dad: “I don’t see a green dot.”
Vinod: “Can you open that thing called Firefox?”
Dad:”Where is it?”
Vinod at this point is not the polite, smooth customer service son anymore. He’s beginning to lose it because he feels like he’s shooting darts in the dark.
Vinod: Forget it dad. This is not working.
Dad: Let’s give it one more shot.
So they go on trying various permutations and combination’s to fix it. Finally, a bulb glows in the dark recess of the internet world. Son asks father, “Are you connected to the internet, Dad?
Dad: How do I know that?
Vinod: Are there two TV looking things glowing at the right hand bottom corner?
Dad: TV looking things? No.
Vinod: Ah! Then we have a solution.
And so we were back online, chatting and hearing Neil’s incessant banter when I realized how the world has changed. Our parents have crossed middle age, but live in stone age when it comes to technology. Getting them to understand or use the latest technology is like a lost cause. I am not sitting on a high horse here. There is no preaching to the crowd thing happening either. I’m just thinking about how we have progressed or regressed. They are far from anything pody. No iPhones, iPads, or Macs. There is not even going to be a data driven phone ever in their lives. However, their social lives are robust. They still have scores of friends. No, not the Facebook list. No. These are real time friends. People they meet physically, hug, greet and celebrate lives joys with. There are no schedules to keep track of; no calendars to check. They just remember dates and make it a point to call. I’m sure most of our parents share strong bonds like these.
Then I think about our generation. How we started off somewhere there. An age where technology hadn’t become intrusive enough to take over our lives. Then we stepped into the new age and somehow the disconnects began. Yes, we are connected, networked, and have a strong presence on the internet, but is there a comparison we could draw that would match up to the ones our parents have? In my opinion, no. Does my opinion matter? I suppose not.
To add to this conundrum, I read this article on WSJ by Brian Campbell about how dear old St. Nick needs to reinvent himself. He’s simple being the first disqualification. “We now have an awkward situation in which the jolly old man is more child than the child itself.” I’d like to scream in protest and refuse to accept this claim, but then that would be futile. There is truth in that statement.
His second disqualification these days is that he’s obese. That was the whole charm about the man for me when I was growing up. A pudgy old guy with that insanely immaculate white beard and a belly that went jiggle jolly bounce when he ho-ho-ed. He appears once a year, spreads great cheer, and then isn’t talked about till the next year. So does it matter if he’s obese? This one I’m going to cry foul about. There is a dissection here that is beyond my comprehension. It is alright to throw a stocking under the fireplace to accept gifts from him. It is alright to bribe our kids with Santa . We sing eloquently about him and decorate trees, homes, and everything in between with his chubby little face. But then, suddenly, we cannot or Mr. Campbell cannot accept him for who he is. His weight has become a topic of discussion. And this about a totally imaginary character!
Should this even be a topic of discussion? Why can’t he be simple. Why should we change this fictional character? I started off this post with Vinod’s parents because they are trying to contend with a world that is getting to be more complex with each day. They don’t have a choice. They are real humans living in real time. Simplicity is not a luxury for them anymore.
But keeping Santa the way he is – simple and adorable is a luxury we can afford. We should be able to find comfort in simple things. And that is a message I will pass on to Neil. He will enjoy Santa the simple way for as long as he wants to. Although Mr. Campbell has some interesting points to make, I definitely don’t agree with him. He has been consistent for generations the world over and that’s just the way it should stay. Santa is cool, but Mr. Campbell is absolutely uncool for saying this about dear old Santa.