How Not to Act Old
Well, this summer bug continues, though (hopefully) it's on its way out. It led me once again to the doctor's office earlier this week, where, in the waiting room, I perused a magazine for women in their 40s. Yes, a magazine especially designed for my middle-aged female counterparts. I felt bad. For them..and for me.
In the magazine I came across an excerpt from a popular book making the rounds: Pamela Redmond Satran's "How Not to Act Old." It was both humorous and depressing, practical and disorienting. What it made me realize is that a) I guess I really am getting old; and b) there are specific ways to combat this besides the usual middle-aged male mistakes.
I learned things like: 1) don't wear a watch (younger people never wear watches; they simply consult their cell phones); 2) emails are for old people (young folk always text, IM, or "facebook"--a verb!--their friends); 3) when texting, never use your index finger (hip younger people always use their thumbs); 4) when calling someone on their cell phone (itself a sign that you're old--see #2), never leave a message (young people apparently don't listen to their voicemail, or, if they do, never return your call anyway); 5) instead, dial and hang up without leaving a message (then your younger friend, seeing your number, will call back immediately, thinking that your call presages something either so great or so dire as to merit a call-back).
I write all of this with tongue held firmly in cheek. However, what it does indicate to me is that the rate of change--particularly that inspired by technological advancement, is accelerating right before my eyes. To think that emails have gone passe and with them voicemails and watches--all due to Twitter, social networking sites, and texting, and all of it within the span of literally months, not years--makes my head spin. My parents' generation (let alone mine) are quickly getting left behind. The communication gap is growing exponentially and it makes me wonder if the generational divides (and any consequent communication breakdown) will only widen and worsen. Will we lose the ability to connect meaningfully between age groups? What will be the net effect for families--and church families in particular?
One encouraging note: yesterday, at a birthday picnic in the park for some church friends, my teenage son purposely left his cell phone behind--and I had the joy of watching him play with his parents' buddies and their kids--uninterrupted by texting and other technologies. It can happen. But not without effort.