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Michael K. Hall: I was lucky to grow up in technology-free era

Just about every day, I go for a walk. I try to vary the route to keep from getting bored. However, my route is usually some combination of the same streets and is anywhere from 3 to 6 miles.

I enjoy walking. It is a relatively safe and healthy form of exercise at my age, and it is simply fun to be outdoors. I enjoy the wildlife as well as looking at all of the wonderful homes along the way. It is fun for me to imagine what I would do to improve the curb appeal of each home if I were suddenly the owner. Perhaps I watch way too much HGTV.

My walks take me through several developments in Orchard Park. These are all relatively new homes and neighborhoods. However, there are no sidewalks, so walking in the street is the only option. This is not a problem because these areas have little vehicular traffic in the morning after 8 a.m. or so. I also rarely see other people out walking or exercising. I imagine that this is because all of the adults in these houses are working. It usually is eerily quiet and often seems like a ghost town.

I also know that there are children in these neighborhoods because of all the common signs: bicycles, basketball backboards, soccer and hockey nets, etc. A great many of the homes also have inground swimming pools. However, most days I rarely see or hear any children outside playing. I can understand why during the school day, but after school and in the summer it is the same way.

My guess is that they are all inside exercising their left and right thumbs on some form of electronic device. Being together online seems to be a major way that kids interact and play with each other in today’s world.

You often read articles about this phenomenon in newspapers and magazines. This is also a subject that the people of my generation talk about when they are together and lament for today’s young people. I know that you can’t change the way society is now, and I have been told by more than one person to “get with it.”

I feel lucky to have been brought up in the ’50s and early ’60s. These were simpler times and we were all skinny little boys and girls running and playing all day long, after school and especially during the summer.

Schools and society back then were not worried about the obesity epidemic that is affecting today’s young people. We had no electronics to entertain us, so we entertained ourselves in a million different ways. History has claimed most of the things we did, and they would probably be considered boring by today’s standards.

I think my generation has benefited from being outside, being active and using our imaginations while we were young. It taught so many of us very important life lessons like cooperation, sharing, self-reliance, sportsmanship, being respectful and a host of other valuable skills. I am positive that these skills have served us well in our careers and in life in general.

While I am nostalgic for the old ways, I realize that these days are long gone. I am sad that children of today will grow up in an era nothing like the one I did. It was a wonderful time to grow up.

I wonder what they will be thinking when they are my age and they are talking about young kids. I also hope the arthritis in their overdeveloped thumbs does not bother them too much!

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