When I see kids nowadays all glued up to their smartphones and tablets. I cringe. I can’t understand how fun it really is. I too have this “unlock-my-phone-swipe-and-see-what’s-going-on-with-the-world-habit and I’m invested in it.

I think it is not right to compare two different generations, but I guess my generation was more fun (evil smile). I can really be so biased at times, but I will attempt to write here why it was fun, specifically my childhood and teen years.

I had my share of gluing my eyes on screens too waayyyyyy back, but it wasn’t from a smartphone but with a few I will write about.

To start off, I think I would start with my first encounter with TVs. Before, TVs were voluptuous, and they had this thing called cathode-ray tubes inside them. The first time I saw a TV was when I was like 3 and the first movie I could remember watching on that boob tube was a zombie movie that I can’t remember the title. It was a monochrome TV, everything was black and white, and you were enjoying it! Unimaginable for some, moving characters on a black and white screen with knobs was the life of the party, the centrepiece, the most awaited part of the day! Remembering that makes me roll my eyes today.

When you had a TV, it was sort of a social status symbol. Children in the neighbourhood knew which families had TV and I could never forget that when TVs became mass produced and had color already, an increased number of households started getting TV loans from appliance stores. In my neighborhood before we had our colored TV, some neighbors got theirs first, and at that same period our old TV gave up and retired. So, I had to scout among the neighbors who had a TV that was viewable via their window, and I had to literally bring my own chair or take a big rock to stand on so that I would be among the crowd of “movie-goers” who had no TV.

We would all be in standing shoulder to shoulder, kids, adolescents and adults, like cobras moving, swinging our necks just to get a better view of the TV through a window. The nice thing about it is that those neighbors with TV shared their “window” hahahaha! The bad thing about it is that, if it rains, you had to pack away your chair or tuck in the bushes your special rock!

And in between the TV programs there were advertisements, and man, I am so lucky to have seen a crowd of like 20 people memorize the advertisements word for word – like a chorus of angels! That was outrageously funny, and I was part of that choir! Advertisements of laundry soap became like a recital of prayers, commas included!

Soon after, almost everyone had TV and then movies that can be externally connected to the TV was possible via BetaMax or VHS tapes. When the TV and Tapes combo became popular, the movie houses lost a lot of movie-goers. Adults would then line-up to rent VHS tapes in record stores where you had to have a membership and you could rent the VHS tapes for a certain period of time.

It was a nice experience, going into this VHS rental shops because people bump each other with fingers pointing and eyes searching all over the library of VHS tapes to rent the movie they want. And at times, if you weren’t lucky, the movie you wanted was already borrowed by someone else, so you had to wait for days! Tell that to people today that you will have them wait for a day to watch a movie and they will stab you in the neck!

People back then knew how to wait, people had patience.

The second group of screens were the the brickgames! Oh, it was one of the wonders of the modern world! You needed 2 AA batteries and must have finished all your homework and household chores, so you could qualify to play the tetris! Oh, those blinking blocks that brought sheer excitement and disappointment was really a dopamine surge to the brain! It was simple and very satisfying compared to League of Legends! (Ooops).

Then my mom bought for me this Sega game console with two games!!! I was supposed to be happy but then the wires were not compatible to the freakin’ TV!!!! So, I had to find an alternative and good enough Gameboy came, hahaha!

I liked it so much, but it really was not good for a “budgetless” kids like me. Playing the Gameboy from one of our neighbors was not free, we had to rent it for P2.50 for 3 hours. And she had several clients, so before you get the pleasure to play, you had to know how long the queue was! Nonetheless, it was very enjoyable to play the same game over and over and over again! Hey, we became experts in killing the different level masters of Super Mario Brothers! Very cool! And oh, I gained my first callused fingers with that thing and memorized the different types of batteries and how to recharge them under the sun just to revive Gameboy when it gave up on you (straight face).

Of course, the cell phones started in my generation, led by the famous Nokia back when I was in high school. The very first one we had was a Nokia 5110 that was rivalled by Alcatel. It was an effectively sold necessity that became a fad later on. The phones evolved from losing its antenna to becoming smaller and smaller until it reached to Nokia 8210. The keypads were interchangeable, and various designs of phone cases sold like hotcakes! Students knew who among them had the most expensive phone, who had the best keypads and who had LED lights installed in their screens!

There was even one time during my first and farthest travel when I went to Zamboanga for the Boy Scout Jamboree when I saw how the phones made you a “chick magnet”.

I was 2nd year high school and travelled with several Scouts to the southern region of the country. I didn’t really care about phones, but it was funny when we went out one night to the venue plaza. There were a lot of adolescents in that place and we were sitting in a bench when beside us I noticed a girl looking at my friend’s phone when he pulled it out from his pocket. The girl literally said: “Wow, what model is that? Can I hold it? Oh, I love the keypad!”; and she eventually went with us the whole night with a big smile and the phone in her hands. Boom! I wanted to buy a phone too! Hahaha!

Soon enough, the phones began to have cameras, from 2Megapixels going up to 5Megapixels until it became like 32Megapixels today. I recently even learned that now there is a phone with 4 cameras front and back, I am waiting for people to make a phone with 8,634,236.98 cameras – I’m not sure how contented can we be!

With the cameras, we all took pictures and with pictures along with mp3, documents, and etc. clogging up your phone. The memory became a new issue so then memory cards appeared in the market. And now you have the cloud, the apps, the virtual reality and the millions of choices to put your attention in.

Aaaahhhh, life should be happier, but I guess it is great to focus as well on the things that matter, a rock to stand on to see the images of life pass by peacefully without regret.

We never really need much, we just need to understand that we really need company, and people to memorize the advertisements in life with.

I’m so grateful I have these eyes.

Maybe I should quote what my literature professor said to my ex-girlfriend. It is a very encompassing statement that considers the trivialities of being human – to define what makes you tick, what makes you move, what makes you happy.

“The condiments in life are what makes us human.”