I had one of the strangest and most confusing interactions with my parental units a few weeks back. Now, it’s not like this is an altogether uncommon experience. I am a teenage girl and, according to extremely reliable sources like Full House, I’m supposed to feel like my parents never understand me and will only do so once I explain it to them while we sit on my bed and amazing 90’s music plays in the background. What was strange about this encounter was that my parents were doing something that I didn’t understand, not the other way around.
For my spring break, my mom and my best friend’s mom bestowed upon us the best graduation gift ever – a trip to Orlando with tickets to Universal Studios which was extraordinarily awesome because that happens to be where The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is. Now, my mom was actually leaving the same day I was to go on a mission trip to the DR and so she was really nervous about me keeping up with everything I needed to bring with me and to get to the airport and all that jazz. Her main concern was that I was going to forget our tickets to Universal. Even though she e-mailed them to me. Twice. Which means that I could access them from anywhere in the world, at any point in time. But she insisted that I print them out a week in advance. I was so confused. Why would I print them out? I would just loose them. When I want to make sure that I keep up with something, I e-mail it to myself. My mom prints out things she needs to keep up with. I had an identical experience with my dad who prints out every scrap of information for my college financial aid stuff. These encounters opened my eyes and made me realize the generational gap between my parents and myself. And so I give to you:
Three Small Things That Make the Generational Gap Resemble the Grand Canyon:
1.) Needing Physical Copies
I thought I would re-emphasize this because it so baffles my mind. In my brain, everything is safer in my e-mail. Even if my computer was hit by a meteor and then not only the remnants of my computer but all the computers within a 10 mile radius were hit with that electrical gum from Spy Kids, and every single paper in my possession spontaneously caught on fire, I would still be able to print out those tickets. Even though spring break was two weeks ago. To my parents however, the internet isn’t a safe place for things. They like physical copies they can hold on to and, in my dad’s case, put into his impressive collection of manila folders.
2.) Googling Things
I think of my dad as a generally tech-savvy guy who can figure most computer-related things out even if he insists on typing with two fingers. When he can’t figure something out however, his first instinct is to ask someone; to call customer support or knock on my door. Now I realize that this might confirm everything people have been saying about how technology is distancing us from each other and setting us up to one day become completely unable to communicate with others in person, but I say we deal with that when we come to it. I’ve found that if I can’t figure something out, I assume someone else has probably had the exact same problem and I Google it. I’m convinced that all customer service people do is read from the FAQ section of their website. Only then, after extensive research (aka if it’s not on the first page of Google search results) do I turn to another person or pick up the phone. Talking to people? I just don’t get it.
3.) The Internet Really Doesn’t Make Sense
Now this is less of a concrete difference and more of a personal realization that was found through conversations with my parents. I have a Tumblr and consequently spend a lot of time on it which inevitably leads to one of my parents asking what exactly it is I do on there. Now pushing aside how hard it is to explain the concept of Tumblr (Well, it’s a kind of like a blog, but not really at all. …Ish.), it is even harder to explain the content of it. Memes? Forget it. (So wait, these are all conspiracy theories that Keanu Reeves has?) Internet Speak? Uh-huh, right. (gratuitous picture of what?) And viral videos? Why even try? (Is that cat made out of a Pop-tart?) And these conversations always bring me to the same conclusion: the internet is weird. I mean, someone took the time to animate Nyan cat, put the music to it and upload it because, for whatever reason they thought it was funny, and then 68 million people agreed with them. What?
Throughout my extensive research and deep internal reflection I have come to the conclusion that as strange as my parents’ instincts and understandings about things like the internet are to me, I’m sure that one day, my kids will look at me weirdly when I insist that they e-mail their tickets to Mars to themselves instead of just leaving them in their brain microchips. Oh what a day that will be.
You can read more from Renee Easterlin on her blog.
Featured image via Shutterstock.