Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day and Technology

I didn’t think I would have any profound Father's Day words of wisdom to post; after all, the intent of Father's Day, even as the fabricated 'Hallmark holiday' that it is, is to spend personal time with said paternal unit, not blog about it.  But a few things happened over the weekend that changed that…

So the boy is off at camp for two weeks, and they certainly keep them busy enough that they don't have time or access to the typical teenager technology.  Not that it matters too much, he is not as enamored with it as most others in his demographic, but still, it's two weeks of a reduced technology diet.

So late on Saturday night, the phone rings.  The time on the clock is in the 'who died?' range, if you know what I mean.  And here's the boy on the other end of the line.  "So, Dad…  I was just checking... so when is Father's Day anyway?"  Tomorrow, I tell him.  Well, almost today, based on the time...  "Oh, OK.  So I guess I'm just calling to say Happy Father's Day early!" 

So now it's Sunday and we're in the car to visit the family, and my cell phone buzzes. Ugh, work is calling…  No, it's a text message.  The only one who usually sends me a text is sitting in the back seat behind me.  So I look down and here's what I see:

    happy fathers day!!

My son was able to sneak away and get back to his phone to send me those three words.  That little gesture definitely put a smile on my face.  And I certainly know lots of fathers who would react the same way that I did.

Is it because I'm an admitted technology nerd?  I have no problem letting my geek flag fly…  Is it more of statement of dads versus moms?  Or is it a generational thing?  One may never know, but what I do know is that these 'toys' that the kids use are actually an extraordinary way to bring us closer together.

Over the weekend, some old friends posted pictures on Facebook of themselves with their dad over the weekend; definitely brought back memories, and also made it apparent how much some of them have grown to look alike!  Others wrote public declarations to their dad on Facebook or Twtter, letting the world know their feelings.  And still others used this forum to say how much they missed their recently departed fathers.   

While the 'old school' folks may resist for a while, it's apparent that social networking tools have already grown from 'basement of the science building' novelty, to kid's toy, to work utility, to eventually a family bonding tool.

These social technologies that are often derided as annoyances, distractions or worse, are actually amazing tools, and they can be used to help bring people - including fathers and sons - closer together.  And I'm a big fan of that.

PS - I miss you Dad.  Even though you would literally unplug the one and only computer at your office when it wasn't doing what you wanted it to do, I think you would have eventually learned to like it...

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