I’ve got a handful of friends on Facebook who constantly post memes that say stuff like: “How to frighten the new generation: Put them in a room with a rotary phone, an analog watch, a TV with no remote and leave directions on how to use them in cursive.”
It cracks me up because it’s basically the new version of the “look what I can do!” skit from Mad TV.
It’s normal for people to highlight their own abilities when they’re faced with an emerging skill set from someone else.
Basically, they’re saying that whatever the new skill is like working a cellphone or fixing a computer is cool, but not as good as the skills they have already acquired.
I saw one the other day that compared the skills of sweeping a floor and mopping to operating a tablet or smartphone. It basically implied that operating a broom and a mop was more difficult and more useful than being able to run every aspect of your life from the palm of your hand.
This battle between the new generation of humans and the more seasoned ones seems to not allow for the possibility that both skills might actually be useful.
If you’ve made it this far you’re probably thinking, “OK, Stinson, what’s your point? Why should I care?”
The answer is I don’t know. I’m as shocked you’re reading this column as you are.
But the reason I care is because my greatest fear in life is that I’m going to lose my ability to keep up with the new technology that’s coming out.
I like my gadgets and I’ve always considered myself to be pretty tech-savvy.
Then I watched a child who measures his age in months, instead of years, grab a cellphone from his grandmother’s purse, unlock it, navigate to YouTube, then navigate to his favorite show and watch it.
And he’s learned to skip ads to boot.
If I had to guess, this feat was more object recognition than it was truly understanding how to navigate a phone, but since that process has been ingrained in him at such an early age means he’s going to a comfort level and advantage when it comes to the next round of technological advances.
While I’m no expert, my theory is that it’s the comfort level that’s going to be more beneficial to his continued mastery of tech than anything else.
I’m basing that on my biggest challenge when something new comes along, which is my reluctance to try them and get out of my comfort zone.
It’s like every week Adobe comes out with new tools for their programs. Most of them are pretty good and would save me a ton of time if I took the time to learn them.
But, I’ve become so accustomed to my workflow that I hesitate and by the time I get around to learning the new tool, there are 10 more on top of it.
You could pick any one of the systems I use to do my job, but it’s all the same story.
The one thing that I remind myself of and the one thing that keeps me forcing myself, no matter how tedious, to keep up with what’s new is that one day that kid or someone like him is going to be competing with me for a job.
And, he might have stolen all the attention and admiration I used to get at family gatherings, but he’s not beating me at this.
Or, and here’s a thought, I could help the kid when I can and just watch and see how far he goes, while doing my part to break the cycle of each generation fighting the other one.