Her Generation

I have a soon-to-be-16 year old daughter. Her generation has grown up with the internet already in place. Laptops and cell phones are everyday items. The entertainment, education and news choices for her number in the thousands. She is more tech savvy than many in the generation prior and the divide will only increase.

Some people mourn the generational changes that happen. They want things to stay the same or remember a “better time.” It’s all bullshit, of course. The 50s weren’t better than the 60s. The last decade of the 20th century wasn’t better than the first decade of the 21st and anyone who tells you differently simply has found the world has passed them by.

Personally, I find it amazing how what was popular a generation ago is now retro cool. I can’t imagine what someone from 2210 will make of an iPhone? A useless antique?

In any event, I thought it might be a fun exercise to think about the things I did or had and how it is dramatically different for my kiddo.

Staying in touch with friends is immediate, easy and cheap. When I was 17, I met one of my oldest friends. She lived in a town a little over an hour away. For me, that was an insurmountable distance to have any kind of relationship other than the one we had: a few long distance phone calls and hand written letters sent via the United States Post Office. My daughter has probably never handwritten a letter in her life and will very likely never do so. She communicates via text and cell phone easily and relatively cheaply. Her generation has never not known email. Add in social media such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and the rest and you can see how my kid will never see distance as a communication issue.

Instant entertainment. I’m just the right age to remember pre-cable, pre-satellite television. Cartoons were on Saturday morning, not 24 hours. Tivo or any other DVR type device was science fiction. In fact, I remember the days before remote controls when you had to actually turn the dial. I also remember if I was really lucky I’d get a second or two of the Playboy channel by pushing down more than one cable box button. Today, my kiddo can simply turn on the TV or visit Hulu online or any of the program specific websites and access hundreds, if not thousands, of programming options. Instant, on-demand movies, television and special events are available at any time. If I had this, I’d probably never would have left the house.

Driving is a privilege. I turned 16 and got my driver’s license that day. I drove, when I was able to actually have the car, with my friends all over town. Also, you could still drive for almost a week on $5. Choke on that memory. My daughter is not going to get her license until months past her 16th birthday. She has to have several hours of monitored driving before she’s able to get her license and wait weeks until she’s approved to take the test. Now that’s a change I approve.

Newspapers and magazines. Just as I remember television prior to the cable revolution, I expect my daughter will remember actual newspapers and magazines in the same way. In ten or twenty years time, the newspaper we all are familiar with will be gone and replaced with digital solutions to view on iPad-like devices or fed to us via some other amazing way. Magazines have already jumped on the bandwagon with slick apps for the iPad.

She will never own a cassette tape or an LP record. The cassette deck to her is practically akin to an 8-track deck to me. She will never drop a needle on a vinyl record or press FF on a boom box. She has an iPod and all of her music is contained on a piece of electronics the size of a deck of cards. The joy of spending hours pouring over the hidden messages on, say, an Iron Maiden album cover has been forever lost.