Where Have All The Children Gone… Ask Nolan Bushnell… Who?


Who remembers when not being allowed outside was a strong form of corporal punishment inflicted upon kids who misbehaved? If you do recollect, there’s a strong possibility you more than once sat in your room pouting while your buddies were out terrorizing the neighborhood, perched high on their banana seats. It was torture beyond belief but there was no Geneva Convention to lean on. Parents were omnipotent.

When a person’s short term memory bank is on the brink of bankruptcy, in contrast,  the reserves hidden within the cobwebbed confines of their minds vault are released back into currency as vividly as though events from long ago happened almost yesterday. The longer ago. The clearer.

I see myself and my BFF’s who I have no idea whatever happened to, nailing boards in the huge pine tree out back, building an even better treehouse than last time. I see myself riding my bike to baseball practice, a mile and a half away, a well-worn mitt hanging from the monkey-grip handle bars.

I now live in an all-American neighborhood in Hometown, USA. My realtor told me there were kids around here but she must have been lying. I never see any and I’m still destroying my teeth with the leftover Halloween candy I never handed out. What happened? Where did they go? When did kids quit being kids?

I blame one man. Nolan Kay Bushnell. Founder of the kid-oriented restaurant chain, Chuck E. Cheese. Also, the founder of Atari, Inc. The guy who brought “Pong” into our living rooms. I was already an adult but still have to admit, it was pretty cool. To most people, at the time it was the Hula Hoop of the day. A passing fad. After all. Who could possibly top that? It was technology at its finest. The internet? There was no such word.

We all know how things ended up. Playing extremely advanced video games with a host of online not really friends from the air-conditioned confines of four walls beats the crap out of shooting each other with invisible bullets while playing Army, or cops and robbers outside in the naked environment. I guess kids can’t do that kind of stuff anymore anyway. Who knows what evil sub conscience thought it might implant in their fragile minds. Much better to let them do that kind of stuff on an X-box where it’s much more graphic and realistic anyway.

Maybe I’m just an old guy with an old guy’s point of view, but where technology has benefited us in so many ways, it’s failed us in so many others. What are today’s kids going to remember when they one day reflect. Ripping someone’s arm off in a video duel? Spending hours on end chatting online with people they’ve never met and never will? If they back everything up properly at least they’ll have plenty of selfies to help them remember. They may not have had many real life friends, but damn they were popular.

I suppose anyone with children can do their best at encouraging them to go out and play. But why? They wouldn’t find anyone else out there. They’d be wandering the neighborhood alone instead of being inside where they could make new friends.

I’m thankful for the memories that are surfacing but at the same time, saddened at the realization of today’s generation missing out on the type childhood my friends and I had. Of course, one day they make shake their own heads at what their kids are missing out on as the world continues to advance. To everything… Turn, Turn, Turn.


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