Times change and there’s no going back
Having grown up in what was considered a rebellious generation (aren’t all teenagers rebellious to one degree or another, whether it’s 1930, 1950, 1970, 1990 or 2010?), I recall chafing at constraints imposed by parents or society.
Whether it involved the length of boys’ hair or girls’ skirts, wearing blue jeans (the word “denim” was not in vogue at the time), a curfew, or limits on music choices, my generation did not want to be restrained. What generation does?
In the late 1960s and early ’70s, we complained that our parents’ and society’s restrictions stifled our individuality. We were the “me” generation.
Some of that rebellion – any rebellion -- results in progress. Some of it results in regrets.
Looking back at that era, I’m not at all sure that to “let it all hang out” was such a good idea. But it seems to have caught on.
Today, little is held back, whether it is language that was once considered foul and now is the norm, display of affection (if you can call it that when performed publicly), display of body parts once considered private in public places, or the rolling out of raw emotion for all to see and hear, little is left to the imagination or to be shared only with a select few.
With the Internet and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, we can let everyone we know (and many we don’t know), know everything there is to know about us.
That’s just too much information as far as I’m concerned.
Today, we can’t leave home without our cell phones that provide us with not only voice connection, but with e-mail and Internet connections. We can’t just carry on a conversation with one person at a time. Instead, we engage in a conversation with the person we are seated next to while texting, voice-mailing and e-mailing three others who are not present. Nobody’s getting a fair shake in this deal.
There’s no going back, of course.
Meanwhile, in view of the path that technology has taken us on, I decided to take a look at some of the things that I grew up with that today’s kids don’t have a clue about, and some of the things today’s kids can’t imagine living without.
Lists like these show up in my e-mail pretty regularly, and I figure those who dwell on them are struggling with aging. Maybe not. Maybe we should look at some of the parts of our lives that are history and appreciate the role they played in connecting – genuinely connecting – us with our families and friends.
Sitting down to dinner on a regular basis with our families seems to have gone largely by the wayside, but since my hope is that it does still take place in some homes, I have not included it in my list of things today’s kids have never lived with.
So here goes --
Today’s kids have never lived with: Telephones attached to walls Rotary dial telephones Telephone numbers that were five or fewer numbers The regular use of the word “telephone” Mailing addresses without zip codes Standard typewriters Black and white TV The Ed Sullivan Show Hearing CBS Evening News end with Walter Cronkite saying, “And that’s the way it is.” Only three television networks: CBS, NBC and ABC Full service gas stations Writing a check without showing your driver’s license Shag carpet (if they were lucky) Avocado green or harvest gold appliances (if they were lucky) 8-track tapes A clothesline (definition provided upon request)
And, today’s kids have never lived without: Band Aids with cartoon characters or neon colors Soft drinks in plastic bottles Disposable razors Air-conditioned classrooms Enclosed shopping malls Velcro Automatic transmission Cell phones Dishwashers Microwave ovens Personal computers Credit cards Unisex hair salons Video cameras Icemakers in refrigerators Unleaded gasoline Seatbelts Cruise control Fax machines Call-waiting, forwarding or caller ID Digital clocks
In both lists, there are the good, the bad and the ugly. In any case, there is no going back.
So, on this last day of 2009, my wish for you in 2010 is for many dinners gathered around a dining table with family, for one-on-one conversations with family and friends without the presence of cell phones, for evenings spent in conversation and activity that does not involve a TV, a computer or other electronic device; and for affection shared and cherished with loved ones – in person.