I think I survived a week of concentrated exposure to the new generation of young people. My generation was labelled as the "Baby Boomers". My children were in the "Me" generation, and my grandchildren have not yet claimed any specific label.
Should it be the "Computer Generation"? There is strong evidence to support this label. Even kids in pre-school are given computer keyboards to play with. High school students are so computer literate that it is often a student who tutors the teacher in the fine points of Internet exploration.
At college age, cracking open a book to research an assigned project now means staying up late at the computer rather than a visit to the library. The reference library card index file has been replaced by a "search engine" with a ridiculous name such as "Yahoo". Nevermind that a book or report is written in German, a click on an icon will translate it into English.
It is no wonder that Baby Boomers like me have trouble communicating with the Computer generation. Some things have not changed though, as paper currency still remains the way to reach a youngsters heart. And, a car to get around in is still needed to amplify the joys of a date with a girl.
When my 22-yr old grandson and his 19-yr old girlfriend came for a weeklong visit, the regular routine of my home was drastically altered. With only one extra bedroom in the house that doubled as a computer room, it seemed advisable to put the girlfriend in the computer room, and my grandson on the sofa bed in the living room.
Our first culture shock came when she announced that she was a strict vegetarian, which meant that pasta was ok to eat, but not the meat sauce that made it tasty. She also didn't drink coffee and preferred soft drinks instead. The waiter in Chillis restaraunt was not shocked by this, and managed to find a veggiburger while assuring her that the french frys were cooked in pure vegetable oil. I thought about all the delicious Florida sea food in our refrigerator, and wondered what she would think of stone crabs having their claw pulled off while they were still living.
I strongly hinted about his committment to tutor me, and was rewarded by a couple of hours of web page instruction while his girlfriend was watching a movie in the family room. As a result, the next day my wife and I stayed home while the car and our guests went to Tarpon Springs, Clearwater Beach, and then Ybor City. Somehow or other they also managed to visit the Last Chance thrift store for some clothing shopping.
Late evenings and early mornings there was lots of conversation and comments about Florida in general. "Neat" was the operative word. Some evenings were devoted to printing out the pictures taken on my digital camera which was their constant companion. Most of the pictures were of her, with a background of the visited attraction. Krumps in Homosassa, the wildlife park, and finally, the climax of a visit to the Magic Kingdom.
It seems that Dunkin Doughnuts was an acceptable vegetarian meal, as both of them consumed several dozen during their stay. My wife, Ginny, who always believes in a balanced diet, finally just shrugged her shoulders and even ate half a Boston Creme filled donut with me. As the end of their visit drew near, they listened to the weather reports back north, and wondered how they would cope with snow and ice after an idyllic visit to Spring Hill.
All in all, it was a pleasant week for us. Viewing your Grandchildren away from their parents is always a revelation. It renews your acquaintance with young ideas, and points out the differences in social contacts. It stops you from saying "..when I was your age", because that is totally irrelevant. Money values are totally different. The new generation assumes that they will make as much money as they need, and are willing to give up some of their income in exchange for new knowledge or experiences.
Local and national politics seems to have little interest for this generation except to view them with a great amount of skepticism. Global issues, on the other hand are viewed as being much more important. Voting is not a big deal to them, as evidenced by the small number of under-twenty voters showing up at the polling places. A new Rock Star, or a flashy CD attracts more interest than a Gore-Bradley or a Bush-McCain debate. Apparently political awareness has been handed over to the senior generation.
Will we leave the country in good hands after we leave the scene? I think we will. It will be a different world for sure, but this new generation has already glimpsed the future and will learn to cope with it! Come back to visit us again, Justin and Bevin! The welcome mat is on the doorstep!
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