The Things I Miss


Caitlin Bailey, Journalist

It’s funny looking back on my childhood. My generation–the one that was born before the first iPhone–is, perhaps, the last one that will ever be able to say that our childhoods were simple. I hate to sound like our parents, but it’s true; life was far more simplistic before the introduction of smart mobile devices. 


I can’t say that I regret such advanced technology, necessarily. In fact, I do not think I could live without it. My smartphone has not only become a comfort item for me, but it’s become a necessity. After all, I use it for maps, news, and communication. Everything I could ever need or want has been confined to something that fits in my pocket. 


Nevertheless, I do cherish the time I had before life became so complicated by the digital world. My only worries consisted of going to elementary school for a few hours and going home to dive into yet another book with a fervor I can only dream of now. I mean, I used to be an avid reader; I finished novels in mere days and counted down the moments until the release of their sequels. I consumed literature like a girl starved, but now, I cannot stomach reading a physical book for more than fifteen minutes. 


How did this happen? How has my world changed so drastically in a few short years? 


I think the answer lies in social media. I wouldn’t change a thing about the advancement in technology–as I stated previously, I don’t think I could live without my phone–but I do attribute much of my anxiety to it. 


I miss waking up on the weekends and rushing to the TV to watch the newest episode of my favorite show. I miss having my only responsibility be a few pages of homework a week. I miss going to the park and clubs and little league games, and I miss the way I felt before my life was taken over by a digital addiction that most of the world shares. But most of all, I miss the way I was allowed to be young.


Kids that were born after smartphones were doomed from the start. From the moment they took their first breaths, they were destined to be attached to social media. Whether it be a social media post from a parent about their recent birth or being brought up surrounded by iPads and smartphones, the generation from 2007 and beyond is utterly and unequivocally tied to the fate of the digital world. 


I miss the ignorance, in a way. Things were a lot simpler before I had access to the Internet. I was told something, and I believed it because that information came from people that I trusted, such as my parents and teachers. Now that life has become digitized, it’s much more difficult to be complacent with being spoon-fed information. We all have a civic duty to fact-check everything, to make sure that our opinions are based on evidence so that we don’t spout misinformation. I’m glad that we have the power to discover the truth, but I’m sad that it’s hard to trust information from the people I used to get it from blindly.


More so, it’s even more difficult to simply be. Be young, be foolish, be selfish, be wrong. But we can’t–not anymore. 


The second that blood is in the water, the sharks begin to circle, and at the first sign of a mistake, society does the same. We can no longer make mistakes; instead, we must strive to reach an unattainable vision of perfection that society has deemed the only acceptable way to live.


And I’m tired. I’m tired of opening my phone, only to see the latest tragic news on my feed. I’m tired of knowing that anything I do to help will never be enough. My heart is heavy and my head is pounding and I want to close my eyes against everything but I can’t because learning every awful thing about the world is like watching a car crash–you want to look away, but doing so is impossible. 


I miss, more than anything, my childhood. I wanted so badly to grow up, but now, I wish I hadn’t been so hasty. The one thing I’ve learned through all of this is to step back. I used to speed through life, sprinting to the next milestone as fast as my legs could take me–I think we all did, in a way. The generations following smart devices don’t have a choice when it comes to growing up; they’re forced to mature in half the time it took the generations before them. 


There will always be tragedies on the news and new social media trends, but if you can’t handle the constant informational overload, then don’t; take a step back and prioritize yourself. It’s too late to go back, no matter how desperately we want to. The only way to go is forward, one day at a time.