Unless you stop and spend some time to look around and ponder the many changes in technology over the years, you may not realize just how different things are today from 10, 20, or 30 years ago. After hearing my wife and I say it for his entire life, my younger son asked one day, “Dad, why do you say roll down the window?” Of course, he was right. In fact, we don’t own a vehicle with a hand crank window mechanism; they are all electric motor button based. In his world, windows are not rolled up or down; they are just opened or closed. Naturally, he thinks mom and dad are nuts or just don’t understand how the windows in the back seat function.
It got me thinking about other things that we say or do that the current generation of kids have never experienced. A few years ago, my family went to see a live performance of Agatha Christie’s “Arsenic and Old Lace.” In the play, one of characters is working with a record player and changing the record album. My older son asked what was the large black disk that they were using? In his world, music comes on CD’s, DVD’s, or on flash storage not on large, black 78LPs. You know, in 10 more years or so, those CD’s and DVD’s will probably be non-existent in favor of all solid state storage. It’s hard to beat no moving parts and the small form factor. Today’s 16GB flash holds the equivalent of 4 DVD’s. If it doubles every 18 months or so, in 10 years that same flash drive will hold 1 Terrabyte of information or the equivalent of 250 DVDs. You’ll be able to carry your whole movie library on a postage stamp sized device so disks will become obsolete.
Here are some other things that this generation has not seen or has not experienced:
1) Rotary dial telephones. Now, they are all push button, touch screen, or voice activated. Your kids probably think you’re a little crazy when you ask them, “what number did you dial?”
2) How many kids today have ever used a real, typewriter? You know, they are still handy when you need to fill out a pre-formatted form.
3) Slide rules. Today, a slide rule is what kid’s have to follow on the playground. If you have one, pull it out of the drawer and give it a run through for old times.
4) Writing a letter. With email, texting, skype, etc…, letter writing has become a lost art. I think we’ve lost something here. There’s nothing more personal that putting pen to paper and reading that which someone else wrote. It is a snapshot in time.
5) Film based cameras: Film, what is film? Try finding the film aisle in your local store. There isn’t one.
6) Rewinding: This is similar to rolling down the window. Why do we say, “rewind the video”. There is nothing wound on the video. It is stored digitally on a hard drive, on flash, or streamed and played in real time. But, we still say rewind the DVR. Again, our kids are shaking their heads in amusement or concern…probably both.
7) At some point soon, printed maps and atlases will go the way of the record player and type writer. Why are they necessary with internet and GPS based navigation?
9) Going to the airport was an enjoyable, exciting experience. Today, not even close.
10) The world without the internet. Just think back to the early 1990′s. DOS was the platform for PC’s and Windows 3.x would arrive a few years later. AOL would launch for DOS Feb, 1991. So, just 20 years ago, we were all going to libraries, writing, or making phone calls with our rotary phones to do searches for information. There is now a whole generation, and a 2nd one coming, that have never known a “non-internet” based society. Kind of scary….Makes you wonder what people would do in a real catastrophe situation.
There are many others: Homemade, hand-cranked icecream…manual transmissions with shifting on the collar….etc…
Finally, kids knew how to play and make their own games. The backyard was a wonderful place filled with pirates, monsters, armies, frogs, bugs, and dreams in the making. Kids exercised physically, mentally, and socially. Today, Xbox 360, PS3, IPads, and Tablets are an anemic substitute. Fortunately, the backyard hasn’t gone away. It still lies waiting to be discovered by today’s youngest generation. Now, where did I put my tennis shoe skates and yard darts…