The holiday season in the high-tech era

All the children were happy to be out of school. It’s probably a good thing that most folks have unlimited minutes and data plans. I remember the bag phone days when each minute cost about 50 cents whether you made the call or received it. Consequently, these devices weren’t used much, and most people didn’t have one.

Years ago, the period from Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s Day seemed to run at a slower pace with more face to face contact. Texting didn’t influence day to day life until about 2005. Cell phones became popular a few years before that, but the technology was not friendly to texting. Now texting and online videos monopolize people’s brains.

It was easier to teach school before that time too. Cell phone distraction is so prolific now that electronic devices trump human contact. If technology is in the classroom, the teacher likely gets less than 75 percent of students’ attention. That’s assuming the kids even care about their progress. Many don’t.

It used to be that in the grocery or department stores people would talk to each other and with them a happy holiday, whichever one it might be. Now, if you see people talking in the store, they’re probably talking on their phones. Wish them a Merry Christmas and you either get ignored or receive a dirty look.

I remember when my siblings and I would look forward to the various Christmas specials. We eagerly anticipated the Grinch, Rudolph, Frosty, the Little Drummer Boy and many others. We’d plan the evening and make popcorn. That’s not an issue now. Those shows can all be streamed on YouTube or some other app on our tablets or phones. We can watch them anytime. As a result, we usually don’t.

I can’t remember the last time I heard of people going out Christmas Caroling. When I was young it was a major activity. Christmas lights are still big, but I think a major reason is so pictures can be posted on social media. There seems to be a contest as to who can receive the most likes. My kids are good at that.

People do manage to attend parades and other holiday events, because many of them make the social media circuit, too. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the holiday season. For me and I know many others, this season is still about family. I think even many of the younger folks value family too. They just have a different way of showing it.

I only hope that despite all the technology we still remember the significance of Thanksgiving and especially Christmas. To a large extent, both holidays revolve around our love for the Lord.

If we all keep God in the center of our lives, we will be the better for it. Still, let’s try to put the phones down a little more and fellowship with each other. Maybe that can be one of our New Year’s resolutions, and maybe we can keep that one.


Ted Manzer teaches agriculture at Northeastern High School.

About tedmanzer

I grew up in Old Town Maine and got a B.S. at the University of Maine in Plant Sciences/ minor in Botany. From there I moved to West Virginia and earned a M.S. in Agronomy at WVU. I also met my wife there. She grew up in rural WV as the daughter of tenant farmers who raised cattle and hogs. Their lifestyle at times was one of subsistence and I learned a lot from them. I've always been a foraging buff, but combining my formal botanical knowledge with their practical 'Foxfire-type' background opened up my eyes a little more. I recently retired from teaching high school agriculture after 25 years teaching with my wife. Until recently I wrote a weekly nature/foraging column for the local paper ( I also have written several Christian nature/adventure novels that can be purchased on Amazon in Kindle format. One is a five book family saga I call the 'Forgotten Virtues' series. In the first book, Never Alone (presently out of print), a young boy comes of age after his father dies in a plane crash, and he has to make it alone. The second book, Strange Courage, takes Carl from his High School graduation to his recovery from a nasty divorce. The third book, Second Chances, takes Carl from his ex-wife's death and the custody of his son to his heroic death at age 59. The fourth book, Promises Kept, depicts how his grandchildren react and adjust to his death (this one is not yet published). In the final book, Grandfather's Way, his youngest and most timid granddaughter emerges from the shadow of her overachieving family and accomplishes more in four months than most do in a lifetime. I use many foraging references with a lot of the plants I profile in these articles in those books. I also wrote a romance novel titled Virginia. It is available on Amazon and is a different type of romance from a man's perspective.
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