I was at a board meeting the other day and the issue of social media was raised. Most of the board members are 40 years of age and older, and most of us don’t use much social media, beyond Facebook. One younger member, however, said she uses Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram.
I know all these apps, as my kids use them all the time. Snapchat appears to be so prevalent among millennials that one college student I recently talked with described his relationship with his girlfriend as “Snapchat best friends.”
We know there is a generational divide between parents and children, and it’s often pivotal world events that shape each groups’ view. Think of the Depression, the Vietnam War, HIV/AIDS, the Dotcom Bubble, and of course, 9/11.
But when it comes to many of my baby boom cohorts, the divide between the ages has everything to do with technology. The techno canyon is grand and it’s getting bigger by the nanosecond.
Years ago, when I first started as a professional writer, the newest equipment in publishing was a “Wang,” which essentially automated page layouts for print.
I’ll never forget the first panicked deadline, when the Wang was “breaking” words at the end of each page to get them to fit. But the breaks were at the wrong place, creating nonsense words, and when we tried to fix the problem, it created obvious holes of blank space on each page. It was a disaster that lasted late into night, until the editorial team gave up and put that first issue to bed. We learned to manage our expectations with what was then cutting-edge technology.
Fast forward to when the world bit into its first “Apple,” and personal computers changed life forever. I’ve kept up for the most part, learning to use various word processing programs, sending copy electronically, taking pictures, uploading, downloading, attaching documents, texting and performing other functions necessary for a freelance writer.
But I’m light-years behind my children in how I use technology in daily life.
Both my children bank online. They pay bills with Venmo, call taxis with Lyft and Uber, share playlists with Spotify and Apple Music, find dates with Tinder, navigate with Google maps and rent rooms with Airbnb.
But possibly the hardest thing for me to accept is that no one answers the phone anymore—it seems that texts have replaced actual conversations. Technology has created conversation “safe zones” where entire families spend time together, but they are peering down at their devices rather than actually looking into the eyes of their companions.
It will only get harder to keep up. In the not-too-distant future, even my possessions will be more tech savvy than I am. Tesla’s automated cars, IBM’s Watson, and Amazon’s Echo may soon be better at navigating the virtual world than I could ever imagine.
I’m going to do what I can to remain current and learn new technology as it becomes necessary, but I know that the day is coming when my children will look at me and wonder how I got so old and out of touch.
And I’ll have an answer for them…but they have to call me first to find out.