Friday, October 16, 2009

Buttons? What Are These Buttons Of Which You Speak?

I've heard different ideas about the relationship that my generation has to technology, and how that affects the generation gap. In some ways we do seem to be more tech savvy, and we keep up with modern gadgets well. On the other hand, any child can kill me at video games. So, is it furthering the gap or narrowing it? I don't know. I do know my son is growing up in a very different world, technologically, than I did.

When I was his age, it was September of 1980. It was the blessed evening before the terrible dawn of the Reagan era. No one had cell phones, computers were not common. In many ways, large and small, Viri would find the world different. I don't know what Seattle looked like then. Fewer coffee places. No wi-fi. But it would have been different. And that was not really that long ago. When he's 33, it will be 2038. I'll really have to reach back to describe the world of 1980, I imagine.

Two funny things that made me think of this happened this week. First, we were in a public restroom, washing up. Viri waved his hands under the faucet, and nothing happened. "No, you turn these. Like at home." He scowled at me. "No, Papa, these are broken. You don't touch them." I realized he was right. I don't know if he has ever touched a faucet outside of someone's home. They all are automatic. He asks me, usually, about lights and toilets and faucets, do these go by themselves or do we touch them? To a three year old me, that would have been fantastic. I don't know if anything like that even existed in 1980. I certainly didn't see it. The doors opening by themselves at the grocery store were still pretty amazing to me.

The other thing was a video game. He found an old game boy, and was pretending to play it. It was fun, he said, you play it too. So, I grabbed it, and pressed the buttons and played along. "No, Papa! What are you doing?" He took it back, and started showing me how you play the game: by touching the screen, and moving your finger to make the man move. Buttons? Ridiculous outmoded things!

It's fun to watch this. Since I'm not much of a technological person, my kids are going to quickly outpace me. I'm not going to mind. I'll make them set everything up, and shout for them to help me. I don't care if I'm fifty, as soon as possible I'm leaping straight to seventy-nine. I'll refuse to call their spouses by name as well. And make them help.

"Viri wife! Pretty-pretty husband! Get in here and make the tv work! I wanna watch the game!"
"Um, Ryan, you're fifty-two. Here's the remote."
"What the hell's a 'remote,' boy? Just make it work!"
"Man, you're lucky your daughter is so great."
"Shut up, Pretty-pretty husband!"

That's exactly how it'll go.

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