By Amanda Griffin Jacob
When I was a kid, I can’t tell you how many times my parents uttered “Back when I was your age….” followed by a personal story or anecdote of theirs and a lecture as to why “their day” was either so much better or so very different than ours. I swore up and down that I would not be that out of touch with my kids. Now I realize this is a really tricky promise to keep. I come from a time when I lived in a world without the Internet and the mobile phone. That’s an alien and inconceivable concept to younger Millenials and Generation Z (my kids). Unlike my parents whose upbringing wasn’t strikingly dissimilar from my own, the disparity between my childhood and that of my children is night and day. These days I find myself blurting out the same sentiments as my parents used to, but much, much more frequently. As I watch my children grow up I am constantly reminded that it’s a truly transformed world than the one I grew up in and I don’t think the advancement has been all positive.
When I was in middle and high school we had to go to the library and look up where the books were and then either stay in the library to study them or check them out to bring them home. The Internet obviously revolutionized the way kids do homework. No more encyclopedias or needing to know how to work the Dewey Decimal System. The Internet has provided a much easier avenue for learning and knowledge. It has also made, however, the average Joe an armchair expert and there’s really no way to vet the truth and correctness of the information that’s available.
As a school aged kid, making plans meant I had to stick to them because there was no way to reach someone to tell them you were flaking once they left their house. I do believe that the advent of the mobile phone has made the world a much ruder place. People feel that it is perfectly all right to cancel plans last minute via text. I feel it’s bad-mannered. But maybe it’s because I’m “old school.” The next time you go into an elevator, look at how many people have their heads buried in their phones. I guarantee it’ll be at least 80 percent. Small talk has gone by the wayside because no one needs to engage with anyone in real life. It’s all done remotely via screens.
People don’t really use cameras anymore and they certainly don’t use alarm clocks, flashlights, maps, organizers, address books, landlines, and even watches. Technology has made these items all but obsolete. You don’t need any of these things when you have one simple gadget that can do it all.
On Call 24/7
With technology comes accessibility. I remember my dad being able to switch off from work simply because that generation valued etiquette and wouldn’t call beyond civilized hours. These days I find my husband working until the wee hours of the morning because you are expected to be on call 365 days per year with your mobile device attached to your hand.
While the world we now live in is much more connected, informed, and technologically advanced, the decline of old-world values and etiquette has made the world a less polite place.