“Mommy, can you buy me ‘George the Interactive Puppy?’” my daughter asked brightly, one afternoon. I nearly fell over laughing, because we already have an interactive puppy; a real one. An adorable, playful, sweet, and most importantly, an INTERACTIVE puppy named Nike, that rolls over for belly rubs, fetches tennis balls, and bounds playfully with a toy in her mouth in hopes of a game of tug-o-war.
When I mentioned said dog, my daughter countered, “but the Interactive Puppy does tricks, like jump when I tell it to!” I explained that Nike could do that if my daughter taught her how to do it. “But that’s too HARD!”, insisted my daughter.
Welcome to parenting in the 21st century
And perhaps more importantly, welcome to a new reality. They say that out of the mouths of babes comes the truth, and here it is. We are increasingly (and at a tender age) moving toward the EASY; automated, synthetic, imitation, ubiquitous. Our devices make our lives easy and we are no longer using skills like writing complete sentences or engaging in meaningful conversations; simple tasks like sweeping the floor have been replaced by robotic vacuums, and pre-packaged “ingredient in a box dinners” are delivered to our doors so we don’t even have to pick our own produce.
Now, don’t get me wrong here, I am a busy single mom of two, and am often quite grateful for these and other life hacks. However, it is occurring to me that the more we look for those things that make our lives easy, the less “living” we actually do. I mean, seriously, why train a dog if you can get a programmed one right out of the box? (Insert rolling-eye emoji here.)
The frenetic pace of life today has us constantly searching for short cuts. But it’s precisely for this reason that we should SEEK out the traditional, long-handed ways of doing things that really matter, especially if it means that these tasks bring us closer to our selves, our loved ones, our world, and our beliefs. The richness of the process that we experience when we are fully present allows us to grow and flourish as human beings, and to fully understand the reciprocity inherent in the interactions we have with each other and our world.
So go ahead and let the robot vacuum the floor; but by all means, interact with that puppy!