Aug 9, 2011

Generational Differences

Back to Basics will be back in full swing next week. Between the move, my knee, and the fact that we still don't have internet in our apartment (don't get me started), I didn't want to throw a recipe up here just for the sake of the series. However, I will be putting in some serious time in the kitchen this weekend and will be at least doubling (if not tripling) up next week - so there will be two recipes in one post. (I know, I know, contain yourselves!) 

I'm a fan of social media. I'm on goodreads, and facebook. I tweet, and pinterest, and hello, I have a blog. I think they're fun, and I don't take myself too seriously on these sites. However, I know online bullying happens, and I know passive aggressive arguments exist in cyber space. I admit to even word vomiting a few times on twitter when it probably wasn't the smartest move. But at the end of the day, I go to bed knowing it's just a website, and it doesn't affect every aspect of my life.

I'm starting to worry that's not the case for younger generations.

I feel ridiculously old saying this, but I didn't get my first cell phone until I was a sophomore in college (and that was only because it made more sense than buying calling cards). I remember when having AOL dial-up internet was the coolest thing ever, and how call waiting seemed like the fanciest technology I could imagine. It makes me sad generations growing up now won't know those things. Sure, they'll have similar experiences - we'll all see new technology and things develop as the world progresses, but I worry for them, because it seems like they'll never know a world that's completely "unplugged."

They'll always know cell phones, and texting, and they might not remember a time before they could express themselves in 140 characters. They're used to being entertained by reality TV and video games instead of using their imaginations to create a world to play in. They may not learn how to answer a phone and take a message because they have voicemail to do it for them, and it breaks my heart that they may not experience the joy of receiving a letter from a friend - they'll just always know it as "snail mail."

I want to be clear, I'm not resisting technology (that would be pretty ridiculous considering I'm writing a blog post right now), but I don't want it to become the only way of living, either. Social media can be wonderful and hilarious, yet can be passive aggressive, and cause distance instead of communication - and if you grow up with that as the "norm," how do you learn any different?

So what do we do to make sure the art form of letter writing isn't lost? Or that long-distance calling isn't taken for granted?

Do you teach your kids (or nieces or nephews) these things in hopes they'll pass it on to generations later? Do you continue to practice them yourself even if it makes you seem outdated?

Does anyone else feel this way? Is this a generational difference or just something you appreciate as you get older?


Amber said...

Great post!

I feel like my generation grew up really plugged in. I got a cell phone when I was 16, as did most of my friends, and I can still remember when we got the internet at the ripe old age of 10 years old ;) I spend A LOT of time "plugged in" with my iPhone and don't ever really feel the need to "unplug" per say.

As for todays kids. Hmmm. Good question. I think of my "little" brother (he's 18) who seems to have every new toy in the book. He has iPods, an iPhone, a fancy computer, fancy computer software, he spends a lot of his time playing games. I'm not sure if he'd ever even think to send a handwritten letter but I've always attributed that kind of thing to the fact that he's an 18 year old boy. I think this might be the kind of thing you start to appreciate as you get older, ya know? Hindsight and all! :-)

Sarah said...

I remember when I was a freshman in high school and all my friends got cell phones - except me! Man, was I mad. I think my parents finally caved (for safety reasons) when I was a sophomore... Anyway, one thing I will definitely hammer into my daughter is the art of the Thank You Note. Thank you notes will be hand written and sent ASAP. No email thank yous. I am all about the thank you note, and it has served me well :)

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I was always taught to send a handwritten thank you note as well! I still do it now, even though my grandmas, friends and family all have email. I hope this is something we can keep going!

I think that you always have a little bit of knowledge of the generation before you. I mean, take vinyl records for example. I know many people in OUR generation who are collecting them now. As in, it became cool again. Maybe someday our kids will take up thank you note writing or whatever "archaic" form of technology that we use(d) as something fun.

Stephany said...

With my cousins, I can definitely see this need to be plugged in 24/7. But I also think it's up to the parents to make it less so. I have two cousins who are never off their phones, always on the computer, etc. Yet I have other cousins who do have phones and computers and stuff but also don't have the latest gadgets and spend a lot of time outside in the sunshine. I think parents need to spend time making sure their kids don't grow up too connected to technology and MAKE them go outside and play.

For me, I got a cell phone when I was 17 and only for safety reasons. It didn't have a camera and I could only text and talk on it. I don't know what the world will look like when I have kids so it'll be interesting to see what my parenting strategies on when that time comes!

Cathy said...

I totally agree. My first cell was one of Steve's and was gigantic by modern day standards. In fact, before that, he had to buy phone cards to call me.

I definitely plan on having my children know how to answer the phone and take a message in addition to being able to use technology. It bothers me when technology becomes the sole means of communication. We have to do better!:)

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I think as a parent you just do your best to raise the best person you can. And to me that means making sure they know how to use their imagination (and knowing that reality tv sucks and is NOT reality), knowing that everything IS NOT a given, no you do NOT need a facebook, no you do not NEED a cell phone and so forth. It's not giving your kids everything. It's making them realize you work for and earn things regardless of the tecnology available. It may cause fights when we don't let them have a facebook/twitter/whatever else there is account when they are young but whatever, my parents didn't let me talk on the phone after 9pm. I survived. My mom couldn't go past her block after dark, she survived. Same life lessons, different eras, it all works.

(coming from the lady whose child will have their own computer at a young age but that is because we will give them an old one and not one of ours to eff up!)

Katie said...

Guilty....we went to the aquarium with Grandma Lavelle this week and she bought Claire a stuffed animal....we took a picture of Claire with it at home and emailed the picture and a thank you email to her (Claire helped). Oops. Guess I should have gotten out the paper and markers for a real thank you!!!!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I def would like to try to raise my children similar to how I was raised. I know i can't completely shelter them from technology, but I would like for it to not have such a strong influence on their life.

Even as an adult I am amazed at how rude people can be on facebook or twitter. Especially twitter. I would say that is my #1 complaint about it and the reason I was hesitant to join. People feel mighty safe behidn their computers. I haven't experience any extreme rudeness, luckily, but I have seen comments and think - really? why?

Lucy The Valiant said...

I didn't get my first cell phone till I was a SENIOR in college, and only then because Joey gave it to me! I'm hoping my girls can have snail mail penpals when they get older, because there really is no substitute for writing or receiving a real letter.

Mandy said...

I love this post and completely agree with you. My younger cousins can't seem to go a few hours without texting or updating their facebook statuses. This summer I've worked on letting social media taking a backseat to the rest of my life and its been sort of freeing. Of course I feel a bit out of the loop but its been good to reconnect with friends face to face, write letters, etc.

If I should have children, I would definitely raise them how I was raised. Summers meant going outside and not coming home til the street lights came on, playing kick the can with neighborhood kids, and using our imaginations.

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