Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Talk Between Generations in 2016

I began working with computers in 1978.  In those days the way to access the main computer you had a keyboard, a small, light-up box to see the data you were entering, and a jumbo printer that could print out the data you were entering.  A mainframe computer usually filled at least one very large room.

I continued working with computers from the 1980's through 1997, including each and every new permutation of computer program that arrived.

I learned about where certain terms came from, like debugging, reboot, DOS prompt, and so forth, when they first were coined.

AND THEN?  Life happened, and I did NOT use a computer for professional reasons until 2012.  In fifteen years, a short span of time as related to things like dinosaurs, trees, or rocks, or sixty year old humans (notice similarity of the last to the first three items) EVERYTHING CHANGED!

That mainframe that took at least one very large could be held in a teeny, tiny box in your hand.  A darling little creation became available for listening to music, it was called a Nanopod.  Then an even smaller version became available.  It was roughly the size of a large postage stamp.

Our children grew up.  Suddenly conversations became laced with terms like APPS, and Iphones, Ipads, Ipods, and other I types of creations!  By I, I am not referring to me, myself, and I.  No, I'm referring to each and every combination, and creation of Apple's latest brain trust.  Let's not forget, Iwatches.

Our 20 something children developed a rather large, and real generational gap with their parents.  Me, "How do I access the DOS prompt so that I can navigate between the programs?"  Them?  "HUH?"
Me, "Wait, do I use Safari for the worldwide web, or is Firefox a better choice?"  Them?  "Mom, you don't say Worldwide Web anymore.  It's just called the Net."  Me, "Don't you need to type in http://www?"  "Oh no, that hasn't been used for a long time!"  At the time, I believe that LONG time was in human time a year!  Again, time is very relative.

I do not mean to indicate that I'm slow witted, or that our children are slow witted.  Oh Heaven's, our children are anything but slow witted.  My 5 year old great-niece can move about in and out of the computer world with the speed of light.  (Wait, that phrasing hasn't changed, has it)?

When my Mom and Mother in law entered their late 70's, suddenly, they seemed to be unable to cope with "new technology," like, a CD player, surround sound, even cassettes seemed beyond their scope of use.  My Mom lived to be 95.  The last five years of her life she could not use a telephone because she could not remember to dial 9 in front of the phone number to get out of the facility where she lived.

Let me take us all on an "old school," stroll down memory lane.  If any of you reading are below 40 years old, do NOT leave's just about to get interesting.  It is 1925.  If you wish to listen to music, you wind up the victorola.  It's sort of the size of a current large screen TV, only it's as wide as it is large.  You have to wind an arm on the side to make the turntable move in a circle.  You have a very large round thing (like a giant CD) that you put on the spinning wheel of the Victorola, and it plays a very, very poor sound quality recording of music.  Some big hits like, "Beautiful Ohio," or the slightly naughty, "Ain't She Sweet."

You can go to a movie...but there is no sound onscreen.  You have to read the captions to understand why somebody is tying that pretty young lady with Marcel waved hair on the railroad track.  There is a piano in front of the screen playing something called, "Mood music."  For a nickel you can watch several films in a row.

If you are young, you might use a phrase like, "Twenty-three skidoos," or "the Bee's Knees."  There is no television, there is no radio, sometimes there is not even electricity.  Which makes that old Victorola nice because it does not require anything but an arm to wind it up.  Of course, when the winding arm winds down the song becomes slower, and s..l..o..w..e..r, and s...l...o...w...e...r and it sounds as though the performer is now a Bass, even if it's actually a woman singing high Soprano.

What do you do for fun?  Well, you do NOT play video games.  You play parlor games, you know where people actually got together in person and spoke to each other?  Sometimes at home somebody plays an instrument and the family gets up and dances together.  I guess the common equivalent is a family dancing to "Just Dance."

Please, let's all remember that the world keeps on turning, changing, and re-arranging.  Our way now is not necessarily the best way that the world has ever known.  It's different, that is for certain.  Maybe, we could be patient across the generations.  I may never know the thrill of sending a "Snapchat," to a friend.  On the other hand, children may never know the joy of sitting outside on a balmy summer evening playing the guitar and singing.  Both methods bring joy, just different types of joy, and who says different is bad?

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