The sky was brilliant blue and on the northern horizon we could see the vast icy prominence of Mount Katahdin gleaming gold in the afternoon sunshine over Maine’s Carrabassett Valley. Several of us whooshed to a slushy halt on the brow of a hill, beaming with the pleasure of skiing.
It was then that we noticed a member of our party was lagging badly. Far up the slope, one of the two teenage girls in the group was zigzagging through the snowfield with odd slowness. As the girl came nearer, it became evident that she was completely lost in the moment. She was texting. While skiing!
“What?” she asked innocently, when she reached the ridge. Adults upbraided her, in a friendly way.
She was missing the here and now! She was a hazard to herself and other skiers! (“But there’s practically no one here but us.”)
There was plenty of time in life to text her friends; now was a time to exercise and enjoy the fresh air!
The party pushed off again, swooping down through snow that became ever mushier. Assembling again a short time later, we noticed that we were now missing two teenage girls.
Eventually they hove into view. Each girl had pulled out a cell phone and was holding it up, in camera mode, while gliding down the hill.
It was sweet and charming and yet, after the texting, it seemed to represent a sort of epiphany.
We’re all used to the idea that today’s children are growing up with their reality mediated by screens. If the unexamined life is not worth living, as Socrates said, the unrecorded life, for American teens, does not even bear contemplating.
Yet there’s something about seeing a girl on skis, moving smoothly down the side of a mountain while typing to her friends a hundred miles away that brings home what a revolution it really is.
It won’t be long before there’s no place her generation won’t expect to be able to use a screen. Blackberrying while parachuting? Scuba diving with iPhone apps? It’s a matter of time.
Amusingly, when the Ski Channel did a survey last year, it found that 41 percent of respondents had texted while on skis. Now, it’s a fair bet that most of that texting would have been from a chairlift (“Meet @ base @ noon”) or from beside the fire at the lodge, or at least while standing still on the side of a ski run.
But where one teenager goes, more will surely follow ...
Later, I asked the girl what she’d been texting about, back on the slopes. She grinned, in on the joke, and admitted that her message to her friends had been: “Am texting while skiing, how cool is that?”
Examiner columnist Meghan Cox Gurdon is a former foreign correspondent and a regular contributor to the books pages of The Wall Street Journal.