ALL adults have a vital duty to tell young people about The Olden Days (a phrase which covers the period from the early Triassic era to about 2008). “In the past, people would go a whole day without taking a single picture of anything,” I declared.
My Facebooking Snapchatting children were stunned. “So how did you have fun, dad,” one asked.
“We would look at clouds and see if we could find animal shapes,” I told them. Yes, life was thrilling then. They have no idea.
But now family life is upside down! In my house, the only people who can open child-proof packaging are the children. The only people who can get past the net-nanny web filter are the children. The only people who can do online hedge-fund asset swaps that crash the Dow Jones are the children.
One friend said that this resourceful, hi-tech generation of youngsters would make great spies. No, I’ve met spies, and it’s no fun: they get swallowed up by their cover jobs. I knew one agent who played the part of a hard-drinking, grizzled journalist so well that he drank himself to death. Probably got an authenticity award from the espionage community.
What’s more, read the news: the whole hi-tech spying thing has been outsourced to wildlife. A few days ago, a pigeon was arrested and charged with espionage on the Pakistan-India border – not a joke. The bird was detained for acting suspiciously, which probably means it was wearing a false moustache and taking snaps of military facilities.
Indian security officers discovered messages in a foreign language and a phone number written on its feathers, the news item said. Now spies don’t usually share contact details, so this might just be the pigeon equivalent of when you write down your phone number on your hand because you’re getting old. Pigeons get old too, right?
Just a week before the dramatic pigeon arrest, the Egyptian authorities detained a stork for espionage and readers may recall the still-earlier incident when the Iranian army arrested 14 squirrels for suspiciously hanging out in the woods near a nuclear enrichment facility. Smug officials proudly said they detained the creatures “before they were able to take any action”, but did not say what the squirrels’ expected actions were. I suspect the list would include “eating nuts”, “hanging out in trees”, and “stealing food from bird feeders”, which are things we’ve all done at some time, right? Or is that just me?
The night before writing this, this writer was strolling to a meeting and looked to the skies for animal-shaped clouds. Lo and behold, there was a camera drone hovering overhead! It stayed there for about two minutes, watching me walk and eat junk food. Either it was hungry, or (more likely) it had been sent to check up on me by my calorie-counting app. Or my kids.
But there’s one good thing about technology: If it’s time to summon people for dinner, I just turn off the Wi-Fi and watch the whole family come running.
And here’s a tip to help adults use computers. Change your password to “invalid”. Every time you get it wrong, the computer will says: “Your password is invalid.”