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A Father and Son Reflect on the Smartphone Revolution

marcfrey 2017


The first iPhone went on sale at 6 p.m. Friday, June 29, 2007, “and suddenly the world was in our pocket.” The device created the i-generation: i-centric and i-absorbed. It created a new cult and culture. A new language (apps, clicks, texts, likes, selfies, swipes). It turned us into an always-on society. It brought us the term FOMO, or fear of missing out. Millions started to measure their self-worth through clicks and likes. The urge to check the latest news became uncontrollable. We were consumed with capturing and sharing every moment with anyone who would “follow” us. The iPhone changed the way we communicate and the way we interact with each other, like breaking an engagement via text. While they seem to connects us, smartphones often leave us feeling empty and alone — even when we feel naked without them.

marcfreyThis spring, I was honored to sail with veterans as part of the “Warrior Sailing Program” during the venerable Charleston Race Week. I met some of the most high-spirited young women and men you can imagine, and no matter if they lost their eyesight, a leg, or got shot several times, they demonstrated dignity and a positive attitude I sometime miss among their more self-absorbed peers. If their smiles and can-do attitude could resolve conflicts, then this is all it would take to make this a more peaceful planet! It could be reasoned that their sacrifices have made this a better world or made America a safer place, but the question that came to my mind is how much say did these young citizens have in deciding how invading Afghanistan and Iraq was going to benefit us?

is that something terrible happens to one of their offspring. After all, as parents we only want three things for our children: that they become independent, that they are happy, and that they stay alive.

marcofreyMy girlfriend is about to visit one of the happiest countries in the world: Iceland, land of otherworldly landscapes and geothermal hot baths. Each year, the United Nations publishes its World Happiness Index, and Iceland has topped the list each year along with the same 12 or so countries. What qualities do they share? While there’s certainly no formula for happiness, each of these countries seems to possess a strong cultural identity, a government in tune with its people and a generous welfare system. 

marcfrey02It’s only an 8-hour drive away yet a world apart. The first thing that hit me when I got out of the car in Miami is how blue the sky and ocean are and how the constant breezes reminded me of the Caribbean. Exactly the reasons wealthy New Yorkers started visiting via railroad as early as the “roaring 20’s” remain the reasons it is magnet for our second gilded era and a showcase for wealth inequality.

marcfreyRecently an engaged reader thanked us for being a dependable and relevant source of non-fake local news. The compliment made me think deeper about the topic of truth.

It is easy to assume that in the age of the internet, finding the truth would be one of the great benefits that the communication revolution has enabled. But there are several fundamentals reasons why the “truth” can be hard to determine.

marcogrIt’s times like these, with rain and snow blurring the shrill light of fire trucks lined five deep down the Brooklyn street outside a raucous jazz session at my neighborhood pizza bar, that I recall the South.

What I cherish most are the in-betweens — some clash between open space and strange timing. One time, driving home from Charleston for Christmas on Hilton Head Island, I remember dozens of eyes suddenly shining from the median of Interstate 95. The deer had taken the quiet for their own strange church revival. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be there.

After sailing through the night, the flash of a lighthouse signaled hope for a safe passage to the chartered destination. For centuries, lighthouses helped sailors reach safe harbor. 

In a world that at times can feel dark and uncertain, it is more important than ever that we know how to plot our own courses and navigate ourselves and our loved ones to safe ports. How do you overcome the daily stress imposed on you by an environment that is full of noise, chaos, hatred and anxiety?

When you decided to move here, you evaluated the weather, geographic distances to family or work, real estate pricing, taxes, schools, recreational amenities, health infrastructure, crime rates, job opportunities or things to keep you busy if you are retired.

But there was something else that drew you here and made you fall in love with the Lowcountry. It is the “local” feeling — the many intangibles that combined create a sense of place; the things that make us unique and give us a distinct flavor that makes living or visiting here a different experience than let’s say Melbourne, Florida.

When your cousin Hermine came to visit, I was sitting on my porch and watched how she snapped large branches from our pine trees with her 40mph winds. I wondered to myself what twice the wind speed would do? Little did I know at the time that only a few weeks later much of the East Coast got a taste of that and then some. Your visit did not come unannounced and I kept my eye on you.