I was taking an evening walk through Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, when I came across two outdoor dining sheds attached to two dining establishments. There was no standing water, but the sheds were nevertheless about as clean as one might expect dining sheds to be in New York City. The stretch of sidewalk smelled like fish. (Why would anyone want to eat fish in a shed in New York City in July?)

A table at the end of the second shed (from the direction I was walking) caught my attention. There was a family of three at the table. One man. One woman. One child. Through the power of inductive reasoning, I concluded that the man and woman were more likely than not married and that the child was more likely than not their own. The man and woman were sitting across from each other at the table. The woman had a drink. The man was going hard at some food on his plate (probably “fish”). The child sat between them. There was a stroller next to the child. The child was not in the stroller however, he sat in a chair. He did not sit cross-legged, so they do not need to abandon the stroller in the shed, but the kid was big enough that we may be talking about a “borderline” case.

But I digress.

The young man (previously known as “the child”) had neither food nor drink. But his hands were occupied with something. What were they occupied with? The young man was holding a phone. He was holding the phone horizontally, resting one of the long edges on the table. What was he doing? He was watching something on the phone. If I had reason to believe that he was watching TikTok, I would have called ACS then and there. But I don’t think he was watching TikTok.

What in the world is going on here? Back in my day, all the rage was making sure that kids didn’t spend too much time at home watching television and playing video games (or drinking coffee, albeit that fixation constituted clear error). They were supposed to go outside, read with their parents, and run around and stuff. Kids barely even knew what phones were.

A public domain illustration of two kids talking to each other through a tin can telephone on a string.
This is how we talked back in my day (that is a lie although I remember my class did set these up in elementary school in the mid-90s). I did use AIM in high school though, that may be more foreign to today’s youth. The above image is in the public domain and was posted to Openclipart by oksmith.

Now parents take the brat out, give him a phone and tell him to watch TV and shut up while they eat and drink. This, my fair readers, is dark stuff.