I have been thinking about societal changes and how we deal with them. Within the last twenty years there have been major technological changes in our everyday world and they seemed to have happened so quickly that many of us are still struggling to cope with them.
Who is having the most difficulty coping with these changes? Hmmm. It seems the resistance begins on average with those of us over 40. We act as if these types of changes are unique and specific to our generation but they are not. Change is always a given. The only question is what type of changes will time bring?
I can still remember quite clearly my Mom using eight tracks in her gas guzzling 70’s Navy Blue Brougham Caddy, her afro puffs, silver platform shoes and Dashiki shirts. The same way she laughingly teases me about bleaching perfectly good pairs of jeans in the tub, hacking at my hair to make it more asymmetrical, all my cut up FlashDance shirts and Madonna-esque earrings. I still remember the looks of pure shock on the faces of passerby when I walked down the street with my Italian boyfriend. Well, never mind them, I only have to think of his Grandmother. It just was not so commonplace in 1984. My friends and I occasionally snicker at how we zoomed from records to cassettes to CD’s, hefty boomboxes to Walkmans, then Discmans and finally the infinitesimal but mighty IPOD. We went with the flow and we laughed at those who came before and yes, there was an element of pity in the laughter.
I still curse under my breath as I remember analog phones and how my mom had a LOCK on the round dial pad to keep us off it when we were kids. Now, a mere 20 years later, it is de rigueur for kids to have their own tiny cell phone that they take everywhere so I suppose we got the last laugh. Now parents have to fight their kids for access to their devices and monitor their minutes or read their call logs. Ah, but now they have GPS so you can track them. Ha!
Recollecting the bitterness of our arguments so clearly and the caustic things the adults said about my generation, like how much we take everything for granted, I completely understand the baffled look of my nieces and nephews when we discuss days gone by. After all, their’s is the new and improved digital era. Talking to them about the time before Play Stations, Itunes and You Tube is like my Great grandparents talking to me about the days of Segregation, Iceboxes, Outhouses, Black and white TV’s, or egads, plain old Radio. Huh? My god, how did they live? How slow life must’ve been back then! How, well, completely unrelatable. It’s interesting and informative but how real can it be when it is intangible?
I had no idea just how cyclical this conversation is or just how much each generation has to fight for their way of being. They shouldn’t have to fight because this is THEIR time and by it’s very nature represents the latest advances in technology, scientific and social thought. Certainly, if some essential stuff has been cut away to reach this place, that’s just not their problem. Their’s is to define the way forward.
Yet, the previous generation always fights, at least psychologically, against the tide of change. Newer is not necessarily better and they can give you a long list of reasons why. Why do we waste our breath? In truth, it doesn’t matter who is right. Each generation fulfills it’s function and in the changing of the guard, ideals will always change. Yes, some changes will be for the better and some for the worse but that is uncontrollable. In the final analysis, we must get with the program or get the hell out of the way.
Age, may act as the voice of caution as we benefit from experience but we must be careful not to become so entrenched in our ideals that we believe our way is the BEST, or only way. There is, and God willing will always be a BETTER way. That is evolution.
However, I still hate the idea of people becoming slaves to technology. I guess I was overtly influenced by HG Wells ;).
The video attached illustrates this argument beautifully.