Sunday, April 23, 2006

Are we younger than our parents?

Most of our generation (people who are 30+) have grown up hearing about and experiencing the generation gap. Today, in the days of gadgets and gimmicks, the generation gap with our parents seems even wider. Let alone being able to explain ‘what we do’ in our new-age IT-enabled jobs, it’s a task even making them understand the working of a simple cell phone. Our parents’ generation really seems Jurassic in their inhibitions against anything remotely technical.

However, when it comes to the divide between our children and us the difference is more qualitative than quantitative. Our children have learnt how to use a computer or a cell phone at an age when we were still grappling with the alphabet – on paper. But we can still understand their language, be on the same wavelength when they talk about the latest game on mobile phones or the most recent Internet innovation that’s taking the online world by storm. Of course, we still feel inadequate – Ana, my six-year-old daughter, taught me how to use the Calendar option on my mobile phone after keeping a reminder message on New Year’s Eve which completely mystified me by its sheer existence. Since then, however, my learning curve on this particular option has been pretty steep – now I’m leaving reminders for anything and everything, from birthdays to bill payments and for ‘time to stop Ana watching TV’! If she only knew…

The point I’m trying to make is that unlike our parents, we have been able to take that leap into the digital world and this achievement, among other things, has kept us younger. We are not only using technology for work but also in our personal lives – from keeping in touch with relatives and friends abroad via email to carrying on conversations , often of the romantic kind, over SMS. Indeed, writing letters, which our parents did with dutiful regularity, is as passé as clothes that don’t offer a skin show. Add to this the modern obsession with keeping fit and the refusal to don the physical and mental image of a wife, mother or grandmother (or for that matter, husband, father or grandfather), and we have 30 and 40 somethings whom you cannot really classify into any age group. We happily accept a Shah Rukh or an Aamir as college going kids, knowing full well they are over forty.

We are younger. It’s the young who keep us young – youth has never been so ruthlessly exhibitionist or so intensely attractive. At every step, we are competing with the youth (I know many people would disagree, but that’s what we are doing, if not in terms of physical appearance then in terms of keeping our minds young). And when we are not competing, we are just ensuring that we are up-to-speed with our children as they step on the threshold of adolescence (which comes pretty early these days). We are creating preventive measures against the inevitable “Mama, you are so stupid!”


At 3:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i guess it's entirely situational.
i remember my mom punchin away 2 glory so she cud converse with her daughter in d US, webcam and all.

hey wut d hell. i handle a tech account. ;-)


At 4:06 AM, Blogger Mind over Matter said...

Yes, some of our seniors do put us to shame sometimes, but on the whole they find the gadget happy new generation as bizarre as we would find a practising Nazi!


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