Sitting at our summer place drinking my morning coffee I see a child walking out on the neighbour dock. This scene takes me back to my own childhood summer mornings out here on the island. I was in and by the water all day having so much fun. But then something happens which makes me, as a social researcher and also grandmother, realize that the reality of the children I see on the dock – first one and then another – is extremely different than my own and my children’s generations and it is very hard for me to imagine what my 6-month-old grandchild’s childhood and youth will be like.
Back to the morning scene. The child walks out on the dock while doing some gymnastic exercises with her arms. Then an older child joins her on the dock, handing something to her while she walks out to the end of the dock. I then see a very familiar pose – the younger child is holding a smart phone in front of her. The older girl starts doing graceful gymnastic moves and cartwheels on the dock while the younger child is filming the show. The older child is satisfied, takes the phone and disappears into the cabin. After only 3 minutes they are back on the dock again doing the whole procedure again. They run back in the cabin, where I guess it is easier to see how the film turned out. The younger child comes out again, trying the same moves until the older girl appears again a third time, handing the phone to her younger sister.
The third time the film must have turned out ok and I am guessing she is publishing it on some social media site where her friends hang out or maybe sending it on WhatsUp to her friends back home.
The drama on the dock is a perfect illustration of the world both I and the child on the dock live in today. Here I am connecting with my readers, who are not present with me on the island, and she with hers. I am not worried about the online communication we are having with our more or less imagined communities: for me it has been a way to be connected to a wider world while living in a small town in Finland – and after all, my blog is called I am linked therefore I am. What I worry about is what this sort of “life streaming” does with a small child. If from preschool age you feel you have to stream out your private life to a larger audience not connected to you geographically, how will that affect you physiologically, psychologically and socially?