The Neighborhood Networks


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Just a minute ago, I was trying to remember the name of a street a couple of blocks down and for the life of me, I couldn’t recall it. I had to cheat and use Google Maps. This illustrates how technology has disabled us to a certain degree. Take away our cell phones, ipads, and computers, and we’re just about helpless. We’d actually have to LISTEN when somebody gave us directions, instead of saying, “Just text me the address.” Now that I think about it, that has the makings of a great Reality TV show. Pick a random group of ten millennials (no oldsters allowed) and take away all of their technology. Then put them in a car in a strange city and hand them a map and an address. The first person to reach the finish line wins one million dollars! Sounds like Must See TV to me!

My inability to recall the name of a street that’s just two blocks away reminded me of being a kid. My buddies and I didn’t need any stinkin’ Google Maps! You surveyed the topography of the neighborhood on foot and stored it in your brain’s geography section. When you were old enough to ride a bike in the street (twelve years old in Detroit), the ‘hood became your oyster. Once you reached that magic age and didn’t have to curb-hop at every intersection, you could really get into some serious mischief. My friends and I knew every street from Rossiter, all the way west to Kelly, then back east to I-94, and beyond. Since my sons grew up at the dawn of the cellular age, they had to develop their street skills as well. To this day, they both have an encyclopedic knowledge of the streets surrounding our house.

However, there was another neighborhood network that we all tried to avoid. The Parental Network. It was designed to keep tabs on us hooligans by turning every parent in the area into a kid-monitoring node in the system. It was almost as if our parents had implanted trackers on us in our sleep. If you went to the movies after your mom said no, busted! If you rode your bike a ridiculous distance to visit a cute girl, your dad knew about it. We couldn’t get away with anything! If we somehow managed to slip by this parental police state, we celebrated like master criminals after a successful heist. However, we knew that any victory was short-lived. When the vulnerability in the parental network was patched, we knew we’d all be back under 24/7 surveillance once again. Oh well, we got away with what we could and had a lot of fun doing it. If today’s kids ever ditch their technology, parents will be helpless without their own parental network as a backup system. A pretty terrifying thought. All those kids running loose. What a blast!

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