When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I had “spare time.” I’d dive deep into the ins and outs of my newest gadgets, and in a matter of hours I’d have the iPhone figured out, my Jam Box synced with every device, and all the software on my devices running the most recent version of whatever system was available. I’d have remote access to desktops (when that wasn’t easy), my playlists would be synced with that weeks’ new releases, and my TiVo would be almost empty because I was up-to-date on all the newest shows.
Then... I had kids.
Being a dad is a serious time suck (even if it is great)! By the time I roll around to 8 p.m., the baby is asleep and my oldest son is playing in his room. With the most desperate hope that he will fall asleep within the next hour, my wife and I sit down for the first time, exhausted. Sometimes I can barely keep my eyes open. All that time I used to dedicate to myself, when I would stay up late and multitask with multiple screens, is lost. The same goes for my wife. Now I understand why technology early adopters are typically a younger breed. It’s devastatingly hard to keep up when you’re older and have more demands on your time.
Companies like Apple and Samsung, when not embroiled in bitter legal disputes a la the siege of Troy, understand this fact and market to a youthful demographic. The recent Samsung ads mocking the iPhone 5 buyers (of which I am a faithful devotee) are brilliant in their ability to point out the “silliness” of the Apple hardware culture. While it won’t make me buy a Samsung phone, it does make me appreciate the power of good creative. The ad points out that the younger audience are the shapers of the zeitgeist -- these are the folks we emulate most of the time. As an advertising and marketing guy, that makes me smile -- but also grimace as someone closer to 40 than any other number.
Maybe it’s just a stage. Maybe when I get out of this phase and my kids are a little bit older, I’ll have that time back again. Or maybe this is why our parents always seemed so “behind the times” when we were younger. They couldn’t possibly balance the role of “aging hipster” with “responsible parent.” Maybe, just maybe, all our parents were super hip and cool before we were born, and once we emerged into the world we sucked all the coolness right out of them. After all, it takes effort and time to be cool. Time is not something we have much of anymore, and effort is in short supply when you’re exhausted.
To my defense, I did figure out my most recent gadgets, just not at the same pace as in the past. The iPhone 5 is up and running, my Jam Box is synced with what it needs to be synced with, and most of my devices are updated with the most recent software. With everything running in the cloud, it’s a whole lot easier to be up-to-date than it was in the past. I do have, for better or worse, a virtual desktop that uses Chrome, Google Apps, Evernote and Dropbox. My virtual world seems to be up and running in good fashion, even if my sleep schedule is still a bit awry.
So, a toast to finding balance in life while handling the role of marketer, father, husband and gadget-geek. And a “cheers” to all of you who’ve also found the way. I’ll be seeing you at some technology-oriented meet-up in the next few weeks -- if we’re lucky.