Bringing Back Our Grandparents’ Values

For some people, the digital revolution seems to be speeding up our dizzying rush into the future, leaving the past far behind. For others, however, it may appear to open up new paths to recapturing old virtues.

 

Blog entry by Josh Rose: 

On January 4 at 9:46 p.m., I posted this message to Facebook:

“Vegas tomorrow. Who’s in?”

I was preparing for my yearly drive to Las Vegas. And, as one does, I alerted 500 of my closest Facebook friends of this fact. I didn’t even think much of it.

The next morning, before I settled into the long drive, I stopped in to my local coffee shop. Ashley, who works there and knows my kids’ names, asked, “Your usual?” And then added, “Heading off to Vegas, huh?” She’d seen my status update.

Some may find this alarming. I found it oddly comforting. I bet this is what it was like for my grandparents, in a time when communities were close-knit; when someone knew if you were going on a trip or noticed if you didn’t show up somewhere.

But this is just one of many parallels between our behaviors today and those of our grandparents. Here are a few more ways I think that social media has bridged these generations, culturally speaking.

 

slides The return of the slide show

Our grandparents celebrated travel. Seeing things that others hadn’t was a privilege. It opened your eyes to the world. So you shared those stories with your friends and relatives. To go, see things, and then come back home and share your observations through pictures and stories — that was part of the experience. I can still remember sitting next to the slide show projector.

We’re doing that today with Instagram, blogs and Facebook photos, to name a few. Two years ago, I went to Japan for a few weeks by myself. I logged all my experiences on social media for my friends and family to see.

My parents’ generation never did this. They just kind of disappeared for a while, then came home. But recording my trip to Japan is remarkably similar to the behavior of my grandparents, who wanted to tell the stories and bestow their knowledge to anyone who would listen.

1950s

 

The return of family bonding

Our grandparents talked with their parents. Family dinners were an essential part of life, not to mention ball games, discussions, family outings and just plain hanging out on the porch. But the culture of our parents’ generation was more escapist; punk rock, TV dinners, video games, and yes, even the internet.

Today, a good portion of our grandparents’ sensibilities are back, thanks to social media.

Kids are not blocking their parents from their social media profiles — well, OK, some are, but not all of them. Teens are texting their parents about their comings and goings. Because of blogging, tweeting, checking in and status updating we are closer to one another than we have been for a hundred years.

We are rediscovering what we once knew inherently; family and community make us less lonely.

 

The future as the past

I’m as encouraged and excited today with where technology is leading us as I was the first time I saw my Grandpa Joe turn on that slide show projector. In a funny commentary on how he saw the world changing, he used to tell me, “There are only two of us left. And I’m not sure about you.”

I think he’d like where we’re going.

 

TASKS
 

QUESTIONS

  1. After reading this article, do you find that you have changed any of your ideas about how digital communication can affect the relationship between generations? Talk about it in class.
  2. Josh is encouraged and excited about where technology is leading us. How do you feel about it? 
  3. Do you think your generation is less lonely than the generation before yours that did not have access to the social media? Give reasons for your opinion.