does anybody really know what time it is?

If you believe the current articles that attempt to explain “digital natives” to us “digital immigrants,” then I had a very strange encounter yesterday. A passing student paused, asked me what time it was, and simultaneously tapped his wrist. I talk with my hands, too, so the whole words-and-action piece made for perfect communication with me. Unfortunately, I had left my watch at home that morning. So I started to say I didn’t … but wait! I had my cell phone. I pulled it out and looked, gave him the time of day, and moved along.

And then it hit me: He tapped his wrist. He tapped his wrist? I had just read an article not long ago telling me that digital natives don’t wear watches (it wasn’t this article, but this one is an example of what’s being said). They carry personal electronics with clocks built in. Hey, nobody wears watches anymore unless it is decorative. Really? Then why did this young man unconsciously tap his wrist? I tried to count watches as I walked across campus, and, sure enough, the younger people seemed to be wearing fewer watches, while people around my age and older almost to a person were wearing watches. (The ones who weren’t were probably, like me, cursing inwardly that they left theirs at home.) Not a scientific study by any means, but a pleasant enough way to spend an autumn afternoon.

Still, I think I shall remain skeptical regarding “what they say” about the labeled boxes we live in. After all, he tapped his wrist.


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