‘Surviving the Zeroes’ and becoming a dad in the digital age

In 2004, I wrote an essay about my daughter Sam, who was then two years and four months old, and what it was like to become a dad in the digital age. Shockingly, “Surviving the Zeroes” won third prize in the Essay Category (English Division) of the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, the country’s most prestigious literary competition.

I’m trying to organize the stuff I’ve written over the years and post them on my blog, because I haven’t really done a good job of archiving the content I’ve created. I haven’t read this essay in a long time, and what I’ve realized is that it’s true that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Sure, this essay is so old that it mentions Friendster, GPRS, the Game Boy Advance, and what have you. But it seems the same digital opportunities and challenges we were facing 15 years ago still ring true today.

I wrote this essay for my wife Ellen and daughter Sam. So many years have passed, so many things have happened, so many things have changed, but my love for them will always stay the same. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters, whatever life throws my way.

“The key here is to remember that we have more choices now. We can each adopt technology at our own pace, for our own needs. Maybe it has something to do with being a father, but I’ve learned that change is something that happens one day at a time. I’ve also learned that your child is his or her own person, that you cannot force her to follow the image you have created in your own mind and must instead give her the freedom to become who she is.

“Surviving the Zeroes means realizing that we are more than this digital stream of 1s and 0s, yet that these tools are here to liberate us if we let them.”

Read the essay.

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