A couple of months ago, I was invited to help the son of a prominent military general with his eyesight.  

It was a hell of a trip.

Private planes, military escorts, pomp and circumstance.  A man who was straight up intimidating me.  Lots of people with lots of power.  Seeing new places, making new friends.  And a decent paycheck.

All that and you know what?

The actual kid this was all for, could have cared less about his eyesight.

Stark contrast to his dad, this boy is thin and pale skinned and pretty much spends every waking minute staring at a screen.  His homework is on a screen, his entertainment is on a screen, his social life is on a screen.

I learned more about Snapchat in a week there than I knew about all of the social Web, ever.

Eye opening experience.  For me, more than him.

You know what I realized, hanging out with a bunch of teenagers for a week?  I think that future generations will know less about seeing the world through their own eyes, than any previous generation ever did.  They don’t have a reason to see at a distance, clearly.  There’s nothing basically, that most of these kids ever use distance vision for. 

That ended up being my main problem with this kid.  How am I going to help him get better distance vision, when he doesn’t need it for anything?

It’s one thing, helping athletes and pilots and generally people who are into the notion that they are connected to their bodies, and that maintaining the health of their bodies is a priority.  People who recognize the real, three dimensional world around them, as a source of intrigue and pleasure, and as something to explore.

All of this has my little brain wheels spinning.

I spent a week with this kid, doing things that mostly had little to do with myopia rehab.

We went out to clubs.  I nudged what seemed like a zillion girls, in his direction.  Hey, when you got an armed escort, might as well use all that built-in social proof.  I’m out there, at 2am, wishing for my bed, looking to give him reasons to get away from screens.  Although even here, the girls are on Instagram every five seconds, and they exchange contact info for Line and WhatsApp and WeChat.  

It’s time to buy stock in lens companies, kittehs.  This is where it’s going.

I take this kid outside.  We play with four wheelers and GoPros and we visit military installations and generally I spend all my time looking for ways to get his adrenaline going.  Adrenaline is the cure for sitting behind a screen.  Cute girls and high speeds, and thrills.  Teenagers should be drawn to this by their very natures!  Things that used to be what scared mothers the world over would try to keep their kids from, that’s turning into something less and less of them seek out.

It takes me all week, to get a bit of a spark in his eye.  Get him looking at upgrading his wardrobe a bit, at upping his cred with Instagrams of him doing fun stuff, in a group, outside.  Hey kid, your dad is the man with the biggest guns.  You might as well leverage your lucky lot in life.

This is where I’d love to see some video action going.  Combining what makes vision worth having, with motivations and reasons to get away from computer screens.  Not just how you improve your eyesight but what apparently becomes a real question, why to improve eyesight.

I’m no teenager, but I think I get it.

Screens have way more potential for an instant attention fix, than the real world.

And I’m not a big risk taker either.  I’m a nerd.  

But then what’s life, lived behind a screen?  Eventually you might as well get yourself out there, find the places that’ll give you a proper high, something that even the rapid fire of Internet entertainment can’t beat.

(getting off-topic a bit, here)

Need ideas?

Learn how to paraglide.  And then once you spent a season or two getting basic skills, book a trip to Nepal.  

I spent a few months there, last year, to improve my own (very shaky) paragliding skills.

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Landing zone, right next to the best breakfast spot in town.

Dragging my paraglider halfway around the world, to the place that positively has zero hospitals within a 12 hour range.  A place where your eyes better be working right, when you launch off that mountain, amongst a few dozen poorly trained, death-defying Nepalese tandem pilots.  French guys high on hash, trying to make the most out of the tourist dollar.  Landing zones filled with roaming buffalo.  

No, Instagram and Snapchat can’t beat that experience.

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On a nice day, you can see the Himalayas (though the opposite direction).

You want to see that little flag fluttering down there in the landing zone, know which way the wind is blowing.  You don’t want to set up your landing downwind, and wind up in the lake.  The why for good eyesight, the thing that any of us need most, the serious motivation.  You’re not going to get up from that computer and get some distance focus, when your motivation isn’t real and tangible.  

Why you want to see clearly.  If you’re trying to help your kids with better eyesight, that’s the question to address first and foremost.

Make it fun project, the eyesight health.  Maybe even part of a bigger plot, to leverage all your efforts into a real story of your own making.  Something full of unknowns and twists and turns, something truly out there, worth experiencing.

Or maybe just work on some focus, and get a break from the computer.  Either way …


– Jake