Growing up, we took many long road trips from Wisconsin to places like Florida, Louisiana, Colorado, and North Dakota (to name a few).
As I look back on those road trips, and the ones I’ve taken since, as an adult, the one thing that stands out is the view from the car.
There’s really no other way to see America than to drive around and look. Sometimes, you see fascinating buildings, landscapes, houses, people, or just other cars that you’ve never seen before.
And the calm that accompanies these views allows us to practice the art of introspection. There’s nothing like just stopping to consider. It’s a great time to assess the world around you. The one going around despite you, and the one you’re actively helping to create.
But as I drive around with my kids and their friends, I realize that’s gone. I’ve been on several road trips in the past few years – either with me driving, or on a bus – and I’m amazed how much of the potential sights to see were missed as the kids looked at their phones.
To be sure, we played board games and some handheld video games in the back of our van as we were careening down the highway. But even when playing games with your brothers and sisters, you often took time to look out the window, if not discuss things we saw as we were driving.
Now, kids are so totally immersed in their phone that they have no concept of all that they’re passing. The enormity of the country, as we drive through it, is lost as they watch and rewatch instagram clips from hundreds of others who’s work prevents kids from having experiences of their own.
The solution is as simple as instituting a phone ban in the car as you travel. But the kids who endure the ban will never see the immediate results of it, because looking out the windows during those road trips are memories and experiences one often doesn’t appreciate until months or years later.