By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
Technology is amazing! We live in an age where we don’t have to communicate with people. We have our cars, our homes and our workplaces “wired up” so that we may communicate with them without speaking to a soul. This generation may be one of the most connected, yet disconnected, people groups in history. Many people in today’s society are able to converse and play with individuals in real time from the other side of the planet. Many of those same people have not developed the social skills needed to carry on a conversation with the people right beside them. We are more comfortable talking to a machine than to a person.
There is an episode of the television series “The Big Bang Theory” that centers on our awkwardness with personal communication. One of the main characters has a phobia that prevents him from speaking in front of people of the opposite sex. Even in a phone conversation, if he knows that there is a female on the other end of the line, he freezes up. He is totally inhibited, unless he drinks alcohol, which tends to loosen his tongue (a great topic for a future editorial). In the episode, he gets a new smartphone with the “Siri” application installed. Siri is a computer program that uses voice as its user interface. The typical manifestation of Siri is that of a female robotic voice. As the character interacts with Siri, he realizes that he is able to speak with “her”, because his subconscious doesn’t identify it as human. For the remainder of the episode, he courts Siri as if it were a real girl.
It’s a funny, but sad, commentary on the reality of the status of our ability to interact with each other. Doctors and scientists have tried for a century or more to convince us that we should exercise and get outdoors. They use the line that lethargy leads to many different diseases like weight gain, heart issues, sugar issues, etc. with limited success. These experts had been left scratching their heads, wondering what it would take to get people off their couches and outside to exercise. Then, someone decide to make a virtual reality software game that could be used on mobile devices that combined GPS software with gaming/virtual reality software.
The result was Pokémon Go, a mobile gaming application that, according to Paul Tassi-a contributing writer for Forbes.com, has been downloaded by 7.5 million users and is generating $1.6 million in revenue daily. These figures only reflect U.S. users. I just did a quick check at Facebook and the Pokémon Go page had 1,572, 637 likes. And what, you may ask, is the best way to advance in the game?
Tassi states, “…the best way to advance in the game is simply through walking”.
Great. The next time I go see the doctor, he will probably tell me for the 30th time that I need to lose weight and then prescribe the Pokémon Go app. Again, this generation seems to have more in common with “Squirtles” than their fellow man or woman.
Long before Pokémon Go, the EBCI Talking Trees Children’s Trout Derby was created with the idea that young people and their parents should have an activity that would get them outside for fun that would also include dedicated bonding time for families to communicate in the way they did it before cell phones, texting and social media became prominent in our lives. For 14 years, the Tribe has provided bait, poles, gear and leisure wear (t-shirts and hats) to children under 12 and devoted two days of activities to the art of fishing with family. The Tribe additionally chips in lunch and some neat trophies and door prizes for the fisher-kids; all at a cost of zero for the families. One of the requirements for each derby is that moms, dads and guardians participate with their children; spend time with them. Fishing requires some amount of concentration, so families are focused on an activity requiring communication and participation. In addition, these children, between 1,700 and 2,000 each year, communicate with each other. Imagine that! Kids playing, together, with their families on an island, in search of rainbow, brown and golden trout, and not a “Pikachu” in sight!
All jokes aside, the Trout Derby and events like it are activities worth your time. Registration takes place at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds on Friday, Aug. 5 from 10am – 6 pm. Over the past 14 years, thousands have volunteered to help families, from the community and tourists alike, get closer and learn the value of interpersonal communication. The Derby is real people, real trout, real communication and real fun!