I’ve been told that as a new parent, there is an eerie moment the first time when they find themselves saying something to their kids – a feeling as the words come out of their mouths – the realization that they are saying to their kids exactly what their parents said to them in the same circumstances, 20 or 30 years ago. They have an immediate inescapable realization that they are “becoming their parents”.
I had a similar technological moment not long ago, talking to my parents-in-law about Facebook. They were not entirely clear on what Facebook is, or why people use it. I explained as best as I could the concept of “friend” as a verb; and wrapped up my thoughts this way:
“Facebook isn’t really the best way to communicate with me. I’m not on it very often; in fact I find that I really don’t have the time to spend to check in with it frequently, and don’t feel the need to do so either.”
Boing! As I was expressing this thought, my brain was pulled back to the mid-1990s. I had been enthused about a new technology called email, and had gotten my father set up on America OnLine. And now in 2011 I had the stunning feeling that I’d heard this before… my father explaining that he just didn’t have time to check the computer every day to see if he’d gotten any messages. Why would he want to do that, he said, as after all people could always call him on the phone if they wanted. And I, in my late 20’s or early 30’s couldn’t communicate the excitement, no, the necessity of this new (to him) way to keep in touch.
It’s 2011; we all use email and the web, but the composed-form email message is “history” to more and more of the Millennials that I encounter. It’s txt and Facebook and Twitter now.
Is it incipient obsolescence to argue about whether this is true, desirable, or meaningful?