Over the past almost twenty years, I’ve witnessed many a Gringo move to Nosara. People move here for various reasons but one common thread is that most want a more peaceful way of life for themselves and their family. I can relate… because that is why I moved here from San Diego in 2001. What I’ve seen most recently has me a little disturbed in that people have been bringing the way of life from “Gringolandia” (US, Canada and Europe) to Nosara. So, while this forum is usually a blog… I’m going to use it for a rant today. Everyone gets to rant every now and then.
This rant spawned from a conversation I had with my wife and is what inspired me to vent publicly. My 12-year-old wants a smart phone. Why wouldn’t he? Almost all of his friends and classmates have one. The only problem is… I don’t want him to have one. Here is a little background for you: When my kids were young, they had an iPad. They entertained themselves and could sit quietly on an airplane or on the couch. It was great…. until it was time to take it away (if you’re a parent reading this I’ll assume you know what I mean). We soon noticed behavior patterns we didn’t care for and our children became increasingly anxious. Once we removed the electronics, Hyde would soon turn back into Dr. Jeckyll and calmness and creativity returned to our household. A few years later we gave the iPad another shot when Fortnite was all the rage. It wasn’t long until the iPad was flung (by me…) deep into the jungle where it resides to this day.
I have always felt that this new world we live in with smartphones, iTHis and iThat was not healthy. I caught myself checking social media while watching TV and decided to delete Facebook and Instagram from my phone and yet I still find myself glued to the device more than I’d like. I don’t want my children to become the robots we see everywhere. Children out to dinner with their parents and can’t lift their head from the screen to partake in family conversation. I asked my kids and they agree that they know they aren’t good for them… but they still want them. The data is out there. These gadgets aren’t good, especially for developing brains. The Apple executives don’t let their own kids have them and you’ve likely seen the photos of “The Lonely Generation” of people sitting next to each other but engaging only with their phones. Depression and anxiety have been linked to the use of these devices not mention other peripheral problems like ‘sexting’ and cyber bullying.
I had hoped Nosara would be different. After all, the people who move here come to enjoy the nature, the slower pace of life, the beach and surf. They come hoping to leave behind the pace of life of NY, Toronto, Madrid, etc. They want to prolong their child’s innocents and expand their wonder. When I first moved to Nosara smartphones didn’t exist. In fact, we didn’t even have cell towers. Times have changed.
I understand it is human nature to bring your culture with you and there are countless examples of it. Some of them are good things but if you are going to make the major sacrifices to move to Central America at the end of a dirt road, then you might want to consider leaving some of your baggage behind. Why did you come here? Do we really need to re-invent the wheel? I’ve often joked that I left the corporate world in the US only recreate the ‘rat race’ for myself here when times get busy.
I ask myself… do 12-year-olds need cell phones? Do they need to be connected and have unfettered access to the Internet? My gut reaction is “no”; however, when all my kid’s friends have them and he is now left out of nightly ‘chats’ where social plans are made, I feel the pressure to give in. Since my kids have been born, I’ve been doing my best to not screw them up… and once again find myself not having all the answers. It would have been easier if none of the children had phones, but that ship has sailed.
Consider this, when we ask for paved roads (which I agree we need), will we soon want sidewalks, street lights and fire hydrants? When we demand from our grocer that we get the brand names we had back in the States or get elated that a new Walmart opens up so we can consume like we did before… would it have been easier if we had just stayed where we came from? The locals have a true love of life and find happiness with life’s simple pleasures. I hope we can learn from them before we corrupt them with the things we longed to leave behind. Our children will have plenty of time on their electronics when they become adults. In the early 1980’s my parents wouldn’t get me Nintendo and I turned out ok. I think…