Matter Chatter

Make Believe Angry Bird

Little kids can be a treasure trove of wisdom waiting to burst open, and I may have had my “A-ha!” moment a few weeks ago through an awesome little tyke.

I was invited over to a friend’s place to watch the Patriots game surrounded with good company and good food.  Among all the chatty adults was an adorable toddler not more than 3-years-old making the rounds with all the guests.  He had a beaming smile and was very well-behaved.

Of course, kids will be kids, and even though the Pats were on their way to a victory over the Jets, the boy could care less about the score and was too busy occupying himself with none other than the popular Angry Birds game, the mobile app game developed by Rovio where players use a slingshot to launch birds at pigs stationed on or within various structures.

It occurred to me as I watched him focus on that game that at 3-years-old, this little boy was being kept entertained completely by technology.  His attention was being held captive by the sights and sounds of the worldwide web and through mobile phone applications.   Then it dawned on me.   The toys and games I played with when I was a little kid have been outdated and made obsolete.   Consider me ancient!

But what was worse, I further thought, is that the technology available to kids today has destroyed their creativity and imaginations.  When I was a kid, I transformed an old refrigerator box into a house for my dolls and I to have tea parties in!  When I was a kid, I flew around my back yard with a towel tied around my neck pretending to be Supergirl!  When I was a kid, I didn’t have iPhone game apps or the internet to tell me how to be creative or teach me how to play.  My imagination was my babysitter, not Angry Birds!

Then something else happened.  The little boy put Angry Birds down and started to flap his arms up and down as he tiptoed around the house in circles while whistling.  The little boy was pretending to be one of the Angry Birds in the game.  He was, dare I say, using his imagination to create his own game inspired by the iPad he was just tinkering with.

And just like that, my theory that technology is plotting to kill kids’ imaginations was disproved and upstaged by an adorable, make believe Angry Bird with a beaming smile.  Imaginations of kids today have not been replaced by technology.  Rather, technology has only offered a plethora of venues for kids to come up with great new ideas for their own make believe worlds.

So what does any of this have to do with PR?  Today’s PR professional is not your father’s PR professional.  Our typewriters have been replaced by laptops.  Our fax machines have been replaced by emails.  Our landlines have been replaced by cell phones.  Technology has clearly changed the way we conduct business just like it has changed the way kids come up with their make believe games.

But no matter what fancy bells and whistles are thrown onto our desks, PR professionals still rely on our own creative ingenuities when crafting the perfect pitch or brainstorming the perfect branding strategy for our clients, just like how the little boy still relied on his own imagination when turning himself into an Angry Bird. Technology has changed the PR industry, but without our creative imaginations there would be no PR industry.