OK, this question is for the Baby Boomers out there – and be honest !
Who knows more about computer hardware, software, gaming, blogging, chat rooms, ‘My Space’, ‘Your Space’, ‘Our Space’, ‘Their Space’, – ‘Your Dog’s Space’, Your cats, hamsters and gold fishes space… Aruggggh !!
Well you get the drift.
But truthfully – is it you or your kids?
Don’t think so? Well let me see a show of hands. Can you download those ‘golden oldies’ rock’ and disco tunes from your computer to your IPod or do you have to get one of your kids to help you?
Yeah, and unless you signed up for the ‘Future Computer Geeks and Star Trek Aficionados of America’, thirty or forty years ago it’s no contest is it?
For instance, when you get the new cell phone with about a zillion features that you never knew existed let alone even suspected you needed, are you reduced to whining for help to one of your scornful children who look at you like you’re the drooling, village idiot of cyberspace. And then as though to confirm your lowly status as a Luddite of the information age, they nonchalantly scroll through and program all of the functions that you know you’ll never remember how to use let alone ever be able to access again.
But wait – wait; weren’t we the generation who gave the world the first ‘home’ computer, the Apple, the Mac, the PC ????!
Why we ‘Boomers’ practically invented the freaking internet, thank you very much !
And while I’ll admit that we might have had some help from those big mainframe computers that the military has got stashed under every hollow mountain in the Rockies, it was the Boomer generation that came up with all of the hardware like printers and modems and disk drives/storage devices and the software to make them all work. Yeah Boomers, when it came to technology we rocked!
Didn’t we? Used to rock? I mean – ah, past tense. Yeah… Hummm.
So what happened? Exactly when did we become the ‘Grandpa Fudd’ and ‘Grandma Moses’ of on-line cyber life?
“We’re not!” I hear someone screaming. “Why I use the computer to pay all my bills and even do that on-line travel thing!” (even if it is with about as much finesse as the ‘roaming gnome’).
OK… but how many ‘chat rooms’ do you belong to? How many ‘buddy’ groups are you a part of? How many blogs do you do a week… a day … an hour ?!
Ah-ha, I thought so.
You see while we Boomers were experimenting with getting more of those cool little binary 1’s and zero’s onto smaller and smaller chips of silicone and transforming vacant lots outside of San Jose into the multi-billion dollar semiconductor industry of Silicon Valley, we never really gave all that much thought as to what people were actually going to do with the little gizmo’s.
I remember attending a electronics trade show back in the early 80’s where I saw a nifty little keyboard that was being touted as a computer gadget that was actually aimed at the… gasp – consumer. The techie demonstrating it said they were going to call it a “Home Computer”. He showed me that by punching a long string of keys, you could actually make the lines on the screen change different colors! Why how cool is that? I went right out and bought one.
“It’s for the kids honey,” I told my wife when she asked in bewilderment, what the heck were we going to do with a … keyboard in our house?
“Why you just hook it up to the TV in the kitchen and someday, you’ll be able to store all of your recipes sweetheart.”
“Yeah, when pigs fly,” I heard her mutter as she walked away. “But I really bought it for the kids,” I yelled after her.
I then spent the next three weekends trying to teach a four and a six- year-old how to enter long streams of code into the key board so that the screen would change color. It was not a happy experience. The only thing that kept me from wearing the official family dunce cap of ‘classic bone head blunders’, was the advent of Pong. Yes! I was saved.
Now the kids could spend mindless hours in front of the TV, electronically swatting a cyber ball back and forth.
“It will help develop their computer skills,” one of my engineer friends loftily told me. (I think I answered back something involved with pigs flying.)
But you know what? He was right. Not only did the ensuing generations of video games, internet chat rooms and ‘Their space’ turn the adorable little ‘rug rats’ into computer experts and programming genius’s, but it change the world in which we live, work and play unalterably and forever.
So the bottom line is, don’t feel too bad the next time that you have to hang your old gray head and beg one of your kids or some young computer guru to help you turn off that blasted ring tone on your cell phone that plays ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm” every time the darned thing rings. After all, we were the ones that started the information age stumbling towards the future.
And who knows, maybe someday with a lot of help and a little luck, we may even be able to use all the stuff we invented.
As my wife says… “When pigs fly.”