Monday, April 8, 2013

Generation Gaps

The other day, in the car, my 3 1/2 year old Dani and I were sharing jokes. I was running out of knock-knock jokes and decided to try an old stand-by from my childhood:

Me: What's black and white and re(a)d all over?
Dani: Nothing.
Me: No, a newspaper!
Dani: What's a newspaper?
Me: ... it's... uh... ...You're right. Nothing. Nothing is black and white and read all over....

The kids with their new Kindle Fires on Christmas morning
My kids are growing up without newspapers, lots of kids are. We get all our news online, so why would our kids know what a newspaper is? It's moments like this that remind me that I'm getting old. I mean, I'm not *that* old yet, only 30. But to my kids I might as well have lived with the dinosaurs. And it's just going to get worse. They aren't going to want to sit through their mom rambling on about floppy discs and dial-up internet (just like I, as a kid, didn't really care to hear my parents talk about typewriters, sorry mom and dad). My kids just want me to be quiet and hand over the Kindle. They don't understand a world without the internet, tablets, or smartphones.

The other day the kids were playing dress-up and they wanted me to take their picture. I told them to help me find my phone so I could, and Dani holds up a cordless land-line phone (yes, we still have a landline) and was baffled when I explain that not all phones can also take pictures. That's the world they're living in. And if you think about it, it's just so incredibly cool. When I was younger, I didn't believe I'd ever be streaming video on a computer; how could I have imagined that while I was sitting in a car, I could hand my kid a phone and they could watch Backyardigans in the parking lot.

The price of a peaceful meal is seeing
100 pictures of yourself like this
I think sometimes older generations get bitter about this. The old cliché "kids these days" grumbling seems to come so easily once you are an adult. I've been guilty of it, I admit. I work at a college, so I spend my day around students who are a decade younger than me. It's awesome and I love it, but it does also lead to some exasperated moments where I find myself thinking things like "back in my day, we didn't even have Facebook, we had to stalk people the old-fashioned way" and "these kids have no proper respect for the cassette tape."

And yes, sometimes those moments can make me cranky, but when I'm angry the young wipper-snappers for taking these awesome new technologies for granted ("only" 4 gigs? What do you mean "only"? In MY day you'd be happy to get 4 megs! Now get off my lawn!) I try to remind myself that the only way technology keeps moving forward is to be dissatisfied with what we have now. Aren't we happy that somebody decided dialing into AOL on a 56k modem wasn't good enough? That somebody was unsatisfied and worked hard and eventually the "portable computer" was replaced by the laptop?

So let's stop being bitter that our kids take our iPads for granted, and get excited about what cool new things our grandkids will take for granted. (I for one hope it's robot bodies, I mean, what grandma wouldn't like a nice new robot body.) Every generation will use new tools and eventually forget about old ones. That's how it should be. 

6 comments:

  1. Excellent point. Kids pretty much come out of the womb already knowing how to use an iPad. I try to keep up as much as possible, if for no other reason than the desire to not be left behind.

    I had to laugh about your kids and newspapers. I would imagine a lot of things are going to be added to that list in the not too far off future...What's a post office?

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    1. Once we invent transporter technology a la Star Trek then post-offices will be the first to go, but until them we need something to ships stuff... but maybe it'll all just get privatized...

      I have to keep up with technology for my job and it's still hard. If I didn't work in IT I can imagine it feeling really overwhelming.

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  2. It changes so fast now. For almost 1,000 years technology was at a stand still. There was nothing new. Today, anything older than 18 months is outdated. It's crazy.

    Returning visit from A to Z.

    Transformed Nonconformist

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    1. I know, right? I got a first generation iPad and now the thing feels so old and antiquated when I'm sitting next to somebody with a new one.

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  3. I like your point here, so many people talk about technology as something bad, while I see it as something that makes life easier in many ways. And I'm definitely happy that someone decided dial-up wasn't good enough!

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    1. Thanks, yeah, my favorite is when people complain about technology on facebook, because HELLO you're using a device to access the internet. That's technology right there!

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