BB #37: Generation Gaps

BrainFireEvery generation “can’t imagine what it was like” with regard to something. Various  generations have recently gone through not knowing what it was like before automobiles, before flight, before black and white TV, before space travel, before CDs, and — increasingly —before social media.

The thing about being plugged into the interweb is that you’re plugged into something very, very big. Not just big, big and fast. Lots of information rushes by very fast all the time. Drinking from the interweb — as those they that say things say — is like trying to sip from a firehose.

So what about a generation that’s never known the quiet?

modern mindWhat about a generation that’s only known the constant bombardment of information, from unwelcome advertising to intimate emails, from texts and tweets to YouTube videos?

Our obsessive growth over the past decades seems to have created larger and larger gaps between generations. As the world evolves faster, each new group is that much further from its parents.

What is the level of discourse; how do we interact with each other these days? What value system is reflected by the myriad voices in the public square?

Some kinds of change wax and wane in cycles. The seasons pass, new comes from old, things evolve and grow. Life has pattern and path.

Mythbusters blow a water heater! Awesome!!

Mythbusters blow a water heater! Highly awesome!!

Other kinds of change end catastrophically. The over-pressured boiler explodes. The eroded cliff face collapses. A critical mass goes nuclear!

So the thing is: are we changing with new seasons of humanity or are we headed for critical mass?

When one looks around, there are a lot of things to be concerned about. (Helium. Did you know you should be concerned about helium? It’s just one of many important resources that is limited — there’s way more to it than just fuel!)

But all that aside, just the sheer noise level these days is astonishing. Advertising sinks its tentacles into everything (I hope you appreciate how I pay extra to make the ads here not be here). There are formerly good websites I hate to visit now because of the ads.

Noise has two faces: There is the idea of unwanted sound that’s too loud to ignore — noisy kids! There is also the idea of noise in the signal — static, noise that interferes with your view, distractions.

The world isn’t just loud these days. There is also a lot of noise in our signal.

 Maybe that’s something we should be talking about.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

12 responses to “BB #37: Generation Gaps

  • dianasschwenk

    Yes Smitty, a lot has changed. I’m particularly struck by your question wondering if there are people alive now, who have never experienced the quiet. It’s kind of sad, I think there are…
    Diana xo

  • reocochran

    I am glad there are still parks, nature preserves/reserves and other natural wonders where people are not always loud and interrupting the beauty with their incessant noise. I agree, on many levels, that this generation may be different than ours. I also think some of the technology is good. I have to say I give my grandkids limits and their parents do, too. I notice there are still books being read this summer, that there is encouragement to have ‘quiet times,’ not necessarily nap times. I liked this post, wish there were more responding, this could create an interesting dialogue, W.S. Take care, Robin

    • Wyrd Smythe

      A lot of those National Parks aren’t in great shape. I suppose it’s actually to their benefit that they aren’t as popular as Major Entertainment, or the throngs of people might stress them behind reason. My parents were into National Parks and tried to visit as many as possible when we’d go on vacation. Made us kids take pictures and keep scrapbooks, too (I still have some somewhere). My little sister was pretty grossed out the first time she saw how mangy a real live bear is!

  • Hariod Brawn

    ‘There is also a lot of noise in our signal . . . maybe that’s something we should be talking about.’

    I guess you’re being ironic(?), but if not . . .

    Screens. 👿

    Screens are the problem. Screens are addictive. Screens stunt intelligence. Screens are seductive. Screens make us forgetful. Screens are ubiquitous. Screens shield us from nature. Screens are the noise.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Well, I’m usually being a little ironic,…

      Is it really that black and white? Using a screen to explore the beauty of the Mandelbrot brings wonderful moments of transcendental beauty expressed in visual mathematics. A screen kept me in touch with my mom who lived halfway across country. As a retired computer programmer, screens were my life for 34 years!

      The screens are tools. Awesomely powerful tools, and they have a good edge and a bad edge. Think dynamite, chain saws, atomic power…

      That said, yeah,… screens are the noise! 😕

  • wakemenow

    You’re right that a lot of us younger folks don’t really know quiet times the way people in the past must have. Quietness feels like an empty void begging to be filled. And there’s so much information to try to take in and process and figure out how to personally profit from. Then there’s the noise…never-ending, constant, maniacal clatter and noise. It can prove mind-numbing, that’s for sure.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yeah, exactly, right? I wonder if that’s why people seemed so prone to yammer on their cell phone as they walked from their desk to their car after work (or from car to desk before). My work days were filled with handling and creating messages, processing information… those quiet moments walking to/from car were precious to me and one reason I kept the more distant parking spot.

      To some extent, maybe it’s what you’re used to. Someone from the 1650s might find the 1950s pretty chaotic. That said, I think the curve itself is growing — the rate of change is increasing, too. The children of people my age face a world vastly different from the one I knew at their age. Their children will likely face one change much more.

      (SF has had some illustrations of possible busy, crowded futures: Blade Runner, Soylent Green, even Star Trek has explored it. The general consensus: Ugh!)

      • wakemenow

        Yep. When I’m out in society, I tend to wear my blue tooth and chat with my people, but when I come home I’m less likely to answer calls. Almost like chatting on the phone is a nice distraction from dealing with all the strangers I pass and deal with day-to-day. But once home, this is my place of refuge where I can truly be alone, at least when not plugged in online.

        Times are a-changin’…

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Weird the dual-purpose of the technology. That which keeps us connected with some keeps us disconnected from others. (Watch out for that bus!!)

      • wakemenow

        Bicyclists are the ones I have to worry the most about looking out for. Most of them don’t have horns to alert you they’re coming up from behind.

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