Tag Archives: baby boomers

Foot N’ Mouth, or 12 years of Social Networking

I’ve had some very interesting experiences over the last few years with what we’ve come to call social networking.  I got to thinking about what for me has been over 10 years of it, once known in the library world as Web 2.0, and in other places as “being on the Internet.”

My experiences have been overwhelmingly constructive; they’ve brought me closer to my nephews and nieces, allowed me to stay in touch with family and friends in the UK, Israel and around the U.S., and in those implausible serendipitous episodes, I’ve been able to reconnect with friends through the most unlikely encounters.  I’ve also had my share of  “I didn’t write that, did I?” moments, one just this past week — but they have been far and few between . . . unless I didn’t want them to be.  This accumulated wisdom has also allowed me to keep pace with my daughter (a 14 year old), though frankly I’d rather be one step ahead of her.

Outside of discussion groups back when there wasn’t a web interface (yes, we used to have to read orange or green text with a black screen, and you needed to know some rudimentary DOS or Unix to navigate around a DEC VAX machine), real time exchanges didn’t take off until the advent of the web-based interface unless you were an intrepid IRC user.  Around 1999 I was a regular reader and contributor to a site that still exists, www.triumphspitfire.com for those of us building, rebuilding or just interested in the Triumph GT6 or Spitfire roadsters.  I spent 18 months rebuilding my Spit, something I couldn’t have done successfully without the give and take of that website and board. It was a gratifying moment when I crossed the line from being the tutored to being the tutor.

Around six years ago I began dabbling in YouTube, even using it several times as a reference tool for someone asking about the Beatles (specifically the first concert at Shea Stadium.)  In seeing what was out there I made some comments about a clip of an Israeli performer, specifically mentioning where I used to live – Kibbutz Yahel.  A few weeks later someone responded to my comment asking how I knew this place, Yahel.  We danced around each other for 1-2 messages; I think we each thought the other was a Nigerian Minister of Banking with a check for us to deposit.  Once we got past that, it turned out we knew each other very well and had even been part of a midnight group skinny-dipping conspiracy 28 years ago.  Steve and I were casual acquaintances, I know his wife, but more importantly,  I was able to ask him about someone who had been my best friend and neighbor for 6 years until he moved to Holland (Dutch wife, child with CF, etc.).  Because of a comment on YouTube I was able to reconnect with my friend Itzik who had since moved back to Israel.

Facebook  probably doesn’t need an explanation for most of you, but I have to take a moment to note that it has revolutionized communication.  I was a reluctant entrant to FB; I looked askance at my 20 something nephews with 286 “Friends”.  Their father, my older brother, used to ask them “how many of your “friends” will loan you something to cover the rent, or take you to the airport at 3:00 in the morning?”  Since then we’ve both come to appreciate its potential and the connections / re-connections we’ve made.  Maybe it’s a boomer thing, because the responses have been almost universal among those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s.  Some of it is escapism, we want our Rob and Laura Petrie TV lives back, even if we never lived them, or possibly it’s because we’re one of the last vestiges of a time when you went outside to play without playdates and didn’t come home until dinnertime.  I’ve also learned some valuable lessons about really thinking before you write, and the power of words.

When I first joined FB I was unaware or unsure of what a Wall was, and who saw what when I posted.  Someone asked me about a particular person we’d all known and if I was friends with him.  This was someone whose existence I marginally tolerated when we lived on Kibbutz together, no way was I going to be his friend.  Of course I wrote something to that effect and immediately had someone else inform me that “you realize don’t you that blank-for-brains can see that?”  No, I didn’t, and that was my last faux-pas until last week.  In an ongoing discussion about growing up on Long Island when I did (about 2,000+ participants), someone asked about a judge who’d been forced to resign and went to prison.  I made a flip comment about him, nothing incorrect or slanderous (if the newspapers and court record are to be believed,) but nevertheless impolite.  His daughters, both participants in this group took great umbrage at what I wrote, along with what several others had to say.   One of the daughters took the wrong approach and aggressively protested dad’s innocence; that wasn’t going to fly.  The other daughter took a different approach, shaming us a little by asking if that was what the forum we were in was about; exclusion and other’s misfortune.  That worked, and it was a lesson learned, something I will take to heart when I post or comment.

Richard

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Talkin Bout My Generation

First a little bombast.  I’m a boomer.  I was born when Dwight Eisenhower was president.  As a matter of record we had the best TV, the best Broadway, certainly the best music, better sports teams, and better literature.  I am willing to concede though, Cold War Kids can’t and don’t do everything.

Sometime this past December we (the family) found ourselves in a weekend with nothing planned.  No reservations, no obligations to be anywhere.  Without ever uttering it (teenage daughter would scowl with the laser eyes of death if we did,) we settled in for a family movie night.  Somehow we agreed on Field of Dreams.  Now my wife and I, we sit back and watch a movie – no books, no phones, no telegraph or backgammon boards.  If we don’t like the movie that’s another story.  On the other hand, my 14 year old sat there with a laptop so she could use Facebook AND an I-phone so she could text.  I was parentally miffed that she could be so aloof to the cultural rewards she was going to miss. Except I was wrong.  Along with being able to manage the different screen-centric social interactions,  she was also able to follow the movie.  She laughed when you’re supposed to, recognized voices (the obvious James Earl Jones as Darth Vader association) and asked us to explain the cultural references and the movie’s historical context (Shoeless Joe Jackson and the 1919 White Sox.)

She and her peers seem to be able to maintain a social multi-tasking level that is impossible for me.  At best I’ve juggled 2-3 telephone receivers, but I don’t pretend to be able to chat, text, Skype, Skype-party, walk and chew gum at the same time.  Her determination to stay in-touch is pretty laudable.  This kind of behavior and ability should make for both interesting family lives and workforce adjustments over the next 10 years.  I have to concede that they may be on to something.

If you’re interested, we do have some titles that talk about the very real generational differences at play today.  They have real bearing on both the home and the salt mine.

Boomers.

Gen Y.

Gen X.

- Richard

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