The Generational Gap

I just played a word in Hanging with Friends. It’s basically Hangman for the iPhone and I LOVE IT. Words and technology together? My favourite.

Anyway, the word I played was “faxed”. (I hope my cyber-opponent doesn’t read my blog, or at least, that he doesn’t read this before his turn. I’ll bet he won’t guess it.)

It got me to thinking: faxed. To fax. Fax is a verb. Fax. Say it enough, and look at it enough, and it becomes a weird word. When did fax become a verb? Fax wasn’t even a word when I was a kid. Facsimile was. Like in all those commercials, where they told you to send in a proof of purchase or reasonable facsimile. From a tender young age, I knew a “reasonable facsimile” meant “close enough”.

A fax, however, is now known as that piece of paper you stick in a machine and send to another machine to avoid having to put it in an envelope and mailing it to someone. Who the hell ever would have believed you could do that?

I see it with my kids most of all. These kids, who have shelves full of DVDs, now obsolete thanks to Blu-Ray, and now stocking up on Blu-Rays. Pretty soon even these will be obsolete since you don’t have to get DVDs or Blu-Rays anymore thanks to Netflix and On Demand. I am a technophile and keep up with everything new so I don’t often stop to consider how everything has advanced in my short (not short) life. When I tell my kids about how when I was a kid you had to wait until your favourite movie came on the TV schedule to watch it, you couldn’t fast forward through commercials, or you were limited to watching movies during their tenure at the theatre, they look at me like I’m a sad creature making up stories. They can’t conceive it.

Take the other day. My 11-year old son was hanging out chatting with me in my bedroom while I made my bed. I have this phone in my room which is totally modern, but not cordless. It’s just plugged into the phone line, no power line. I have it so that on those occasions where the power goes out and cell lines go down, we’re able to make phone calls if we have to. You know, the handset is connected to the base by one of those curly cords. When I was little eight million years ago, it was cool to have a 30-foot long curly cord in case you wanted to speak in privacy in the hall closet.

Anyway, my kid never hangs out in my room so I don’t think he’d ever even noticed the phone in there. I was busy fluffing pillows and tucking in sheets, and the phone rang. I asked him to answer it. He looked in the general direction of where the ringing was coming from, saw the phone, looked back at me, panicked, and said, “what do I do????”

YOU KIDDING ME? That says it all.

On the other side of the whacked-out generational equation is my mother, who was practically brought up with horse and buggies. This woman, tough broad that she is, easily the most intelligent, sharp person I know, has the serious downfall of not comprehending anything post-1960. It’s a wonder she knows how to operate a microwave. How many times have I packed up the kids and driven to her house because her DVD player doesn’t work? “Hmph! This stupid thing I spent a fortune on last week isn’t working! It’s broken. No, no, no, it’s broken. Ha! What’s the use of all of these disposable expensive machines? I just want to watch On Golden Pond! I finally found the DVD and all this old woman wants to do is WATCH HER MOVIE!”

So while trying to explain to her what button to look for on her remote, she just says “no, no, no, no, no”. She’s from the generation that’s afraid to push any buttons. When I leave my place and she’s going to be the next one to be there, after picking up my kids from school, I can’t leave the burglar alarm on. I say, “Mom, you just have to punch in these 4 little numbers” ” nononononono”, or, when I tell her, “Mom, you have like 8 voicemails on your cell phone, here’s how you retrieve them” “nonononono” – I give up. So I pack up the kids, drive 10 minutes to her house, grab her remote and push “input” and the piece of crap disposable DVD player suddenly starts playing Katherine Hepburn going, “Noooorman! The loons!” and my mom goes, “Huh! Well.” Then I pack the kids back up again and come back home. I solve her problem in like 20 seconds but she still doesn’t want to learn how to do it herself.

I love gadgets and all the latest things but I’m still old, too. Like, I find myself thinking that music nowadays is crap. That kind of thing. With the exception of The Black Keys and stuff like that. I never listen to pop radio because it drives me crazy. I find out about new groups if they’re on SNL. And, I’ve got an iPad (sort of dying inside because I can’t get the latest one) and am addicted to everything Apple – but I won’t read a book on my iPad. Real books are still better. But at least I’d know how to read one on the iPad if I wanted to. And I shudder at anyone who still has, like, a flip phone. One of my coworkers has a phone that doesn’t even text, and it makes me a little sick. She takes great pleasure at using it around me just to drive me crazy.

OK, so if I post this now, Greg (if that’s his name – that’s another thing – he could be anybody) will have taken his turn already. If he’s like, 18 or something, maybe he won’t have guessed faxed. On account of faxes are already old fashioned.

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Comments

  1. You just need to know where to go to find the good music. @CBCR2Drive with Rich Terfry (or Stir fry, as some call him) has a great show as does @CBCR2Morning with Tom Power. Great variety, new and old; they’re the best as far as I’m concerned. They play the Black Keys and a lot of other great groups I’d never heard of before I started listening – Wintersleep, Bedouin Soundclash and The Decemberists come to mind. Also, re: CBC – no commercials. Music is good again.

  2. ohai you tell the funnest stories, veronica. i remember when you had to dial up to get on the internet and nobody downloaded anything because it was sooo slow, and then you had to pay for *minutes* which meant if you were online and doing nothing, it was costing you precious minutes. i also remember when you had to use keys to unlock car doors instead pushing a button. and kids breakfast cereals had names like “sugar smacks” and “super sugar crisp” and parents would buy them because sugar was awesome. now everyone hates sugar, gluten, and peanuts for some reason.

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