Keeping Up With the Times
Right here in the title we have an “old-day” expression. Elders seem to do that. I am no exception. We know we have really bombed (probably another outdated expression) when we say something and see before us blank expressions. Most edifying is carrying on a conversation with one’s grandchildren.
Consider my recent discussion with a nineteen year old: Me: “I remember Grandpa and I going to Red Rocks to hear Peter Paul and Mary sing. Ah and we’ve also seen the Kingston Trio, Arlo Guthrie…” Grandson: “I don’t know what you’re talking about Grandma. You’re talking a different language.”
I never thought that our linguistic exchanges have drifted apart so dramatically. A person can shrug off the gap that appears when discussing music but think of the frustration of the younger generation when one of them tries to communicate with one of us. Twenty something person in the home of an eighty year old: “Do you have a landline I can use?” I know that a landline is an old-fashioned telephone, workable only in one’s home or office, but to some of my generation the connotation is fuzzy to say the least. The verbiage involved may bring to mind a rhyming word land mine which gives one pause. Perhaps the playing of words in that split second caused the look of confusion and distaste. In that particular scene I happened to be present to connect the two generations into a mutual understanding of telecommunications.
Language is not the only barrier to smooth communication between generations. Technology is a huge problem for many of us elders. Although there are a few holdouts—folks who do not own or use a computer–most of us have email and Internet access. Some grandmothers I know send text messages to their grandchildren. I had one brush with text messaging with an unwisely chosen cell phone service and when the bill came, I swore off text messages forever. My cell phone is Spartan simple; I make and receive phone calls.
One of my daughters, on the other hand, has a cell phone that brings up her emails, looks up stuff on the Internet, takes and sends photographs anywhere in the world and tells her where she is and how to get where she’s going. In a human sounding voice. The first time I was in the car with her and The Voice was guiding us to our destination, I remembered cartoons from 60 and 70 years ago that showed us a glimpse of the future—which has arrived with uncanny precision.
One could spend a small fortune on many of these devices that make life easier—maybe. Not only is there the initial cost but the replacement cost either because the newest version seems so much more complete or because the software required to run them has changed and so the device must change accordingly. I can attest to that as my “old” computer from 2009 had to be replaced recently, mainly because the hard drive was ready to retire, having told me in many ways as together we creaked along ever more slowly.
When I watch younger folks tap out directions on their cell phones or take pictures with cameras small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, I’m envious of the level of their expertise. But, wait, my husband does that—he takes pictures with a teeny tiny camera. Maybe we are keeping up with the times after all. It all involves a lot of thinking, but figuring things out, learning new techniques, conquering the fear of technology does keep us young, doesn’t it? Now if I could just figure out how to put pictures on my Face book page.