I believe that my childhood happened during an interesting period in the Digital era. After computers finally made their way to everyday family lives and people had a moment to adjust to this new situation, they started to notice the eventual consequences of the ever easier access to The Digital. I suppose it is a very common human feature, we lack perspective, we do not think about the results of our actions. Therefore, whenever something groundbreaking is created the human race exploits it to the point where we have no other choice but to deal with the awful consequences of our rapacity. Anyway, my childhood happened to fall on this exact moment of doubt, which is why my parents decided to heavily limit my Digital experience and use more traditionally accepted methods of developing your child’s imagination like colouring books and Legos. However, there was one exception: CDs with audio recordings of different legends and fairy tales. Very often I treated them as background noise in a car, during playtime or when I was falling asleep. Even though this could technically be treated as my first Digital experience there was a more significant digital event connected to those CDs. The events that led to this digital epiphany were as follows…
When I was around 6 my audio recorder broke and my father decided to borrow me his laptop so I could still listen to my fairy tales and legends. That is when I discovered that one of my precious CDs contained something more than just audio files. The CD included many educational games related to the audio. Connecting the dots 6-year-old me decided to check all of the CDs and to my greatest surprise it turned out that all of them had the same feature. I felt like I opened a portal to another dimension or like I became a keeper of secret knowledge or climbed behind a magical wall. Most of these games included colouring, labyrinths or memory cards – the same things I was already doing in real life but it was a completely new way of entertainment. It was a big moment, a breaking one, for my 6-year-old-brain. Part of it connects this event to a photo I’ve seen a couple of times which depicts me swinging my feet above the ground while sitting at our family table. I look focused, determined and fixated on the laptop screen in front of me. My hand barely covers the computer mouse and it looks like find it hard to keep my head above the table line. Even though the picture probably does not depict my first conscious digital experience I still believe that it accurately portrays the fascination of a young mind. [Note: My goal is to find this photo and add it here eventually but going through the family albums takes time.]
The feeling of discovering something new within the Digital sphere is still very relevant and real to me, it is this special type of joy and satisfaction when you learn how to navigate within Digital. I believe it is this constant drive for exploring and discovering that keeps me coming back for more even though now Digital more often means responsibility. I should probably turn for entertainment towards something else. I should probably withdraw and create a full circle by going back to colouring books and Legos, but I cannot. I am human and I also lack perspective. Sometimes I feel like I at least should give myself some rest and create healthy boundaries with the Digital but after encountering it nothing is as appealing as it was before!
Was my parent’s decision to keep me away from the Digital until I discover it myself a right one? I do not know and I cannot tell how listening to CDs instead of watching movies affected my mind (although I have to admit that I still remember a lot of the fairy tales by heart, perhaps I was brainwashed?). However, I can certainly tell that discovering the Digital myself was something much more magical and more intense since I was not gradually introduced to it by someone else but instead it was I who found it. It just fell onto my lap under a cover of a familiar object. This memory feels crucial and holds a special place in my mind alongside the first book I fell in love with or the day my parents installed gymnastic rings in my bedroom (and also the moment I fell from them on my face). When writing this I had a reflection over the fact that now I am entangled in the Digital even more so than before and I have been using it constantly since that discovery day but it still feels almost the same. It is a little bit mysterious and hard to grasp because of how vast it is and still evokes this special type of joy and excitement as it did for the first time.