Anti-tech: The kids who get their kicks from retro
Real books and 1980s pop get the thumbs-up
Despite the proliferation of screens in our lives, there are still a few youngsters here and there who appreciate the way things used to be before tech took over.
IN PRAISE OF BOOKSSaskia Govender and Jemma Hendricks have read their weight in books this year — but neither are swapping for e-book readers to lighten the weight of their sagging shelves.
Just one of the tomes in their vast collection is about 1,035 pages and looks like it could do some damage if used as a projectile.
“I think there are so many things in our lives that are technological, so books are sacred. This was the first form of information and now there are so many ways of reading and learning, so I feel like we should keep actual books separate from tech,” says 12-year-old Saskia.
For Jemma, it is a habit formed from infancy. “Ever since I was a baby, my parents and grandmother read to me so I could fall asleep. It’s the same now. I like falling asleep with a book, and if it falls on my head it doesn’t matter, unlike a Kindle which might hurt,” she says.
“Also, your book never needs charging or goes flat in the middle of a chapter,” says Saskia.The Grade 6 pupils at Southdowns College in Centurion list their favourites for the year, which they share and swap around. The pop Slated series and Lauren St John’s White Giraffe were memorable. But there are also Harry Potter “classics” and Pakistani Nobel prizewinner Malala Yousafzai’s memoir about being shot in the face by the Taliban for daring to attend school in the collection.
“I am Malala was amazing,” says Jemma. “It was so insightful,” adds Saskia.The pair said they are not averse to the sci-fi horror stories which are popular with their age group. “It’s not really about aliens, more futuristic. They’re entertaining and we wait for the next in the series to come out,” says Saskia.
These kids aren’t Luddites. They often watch the screen adaptations of books such as Hollow City, the sequel of Ransom Riggs or Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children — after reading the books, of course.
“We are such nerds. We spend a lot of our time reading. I love the feel of the book, how you get sucked in. I like hardcover books and how it feels to turn pages,” says Jemma.
And for Saskia it is the olfactory addiction. “The smell of a new book, that is just special. I don’t think e-readers smell of anything.”
SOUNDS BETTER ON MIXTAPEThere was no Barney or Mickey Mouse at this Joburg youngster’s third birthday.
Instead Maia Soogreem, now 11, had a Michael Jackson-themed party, Ode to the King of Pop.The Grade 4 pupil at Panorama Primary School in north-western Johannesburg still lists Jackson, along with George Michael, John Lennon and Madonna, as her preferred artists. And she got to know them from her mother Tina’s cassette tapes from the 1980s.
“Mum used to play her music and it was so nice to listen to. I liked the beat and the words, not the boom-boom sounds from music that is out now. I’m not really into new music. My friends and cousins listen to all of the new songs from Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and that stuff. It’s not really nice. The words are not inspirational. It’s kind of drowsy, bleh. Even the dance moves now are so weird.”While her music collection has graduated to her cellphone and radio, the music from two decades before she was born still makes the cut. “I tell my friends about the 1980s but they don’t know it or get it. My favourite song ever is Bad Boys by George Michael. I was very sad when he died.”
The revival of 1980s gear helped this self-confessed tomboy find T-shirts with her idols’ faces on them. “Luckily this came back into fashion. Everything they make for girls is pink. And I don’t like pink,” she declares.