The Generation Gap Shrinks
If there ever was a need to find evidence of the evolution of communication and technology, I don’t have to look any farther than my parents. I’ve been fighting for years to get my parents to get text messaging on their phones. Like any good son, I want them to participate in the 21st century learning community. I’d had several successful attempts at getting them to join in other ways (see: my dad’s Facebook account, my Mom’s addiction to her Macbook, etc.) but because of the “teen image” of texting and the extra cost (actually a huge factor) they wouldn’t succumb to the pressure. Finally, over the holidays, I had a breakthrough in this fight for real-time communication, albeit in the short 100 character variety. Now while I’d like to think it was all my pressure and canoodling that got them on board, I think it was actually brought about through societal necessity. Much like those teachers that are reluctant to embrace new technology, there was some apprehension with my parents in terms of what yet another form of communication would mean. To put things into prospective, I thought back to the history of what communication looked like between my parents and I since the day I left the house for college in 1993.
1993-1999 – A Sunday morning phone call (usually after 10 so I could sleep in and before noon so I could watch football). I also got the occasional handwritten letter from my father when I was really messing up.
1999-2003– While I still got the Sunday morning phone call, the letter was replaced with email and it came more frequently. Only, mixed in with emails offering advice on how to straighten up my life, I also got the occassional FWD. (Classics like “Rednecks fishing” and “Check out this sidewalk chalk guy”). My dad and I introduced a third method of communication at this point which was the chat feature via online poker. This is where historical phrases such as “LOL” and “NH” (nice hand) started to be introduced to their generation. I’m the lone texter in my family at this point. My plan is 200 texts a month, which I figure I’ll never reach since there are only about 4 other people I know in the world that text.
2003-2008– Married now, the phone calls become more frequent for a couple of reasons. For one, I’m now married and my wife will take part in the occasional Tuesday night conversation to mix in with the Sunday morning chat (which still remains). The other factor is that we are now reachable anywhere thanks to these fancy Motorola Razr cell phones we are carrying around. While that’s our third model of cell phone, my parents actually purchase a bare-bones basic Nokia to carry around with them in 2005, laying the groundwork for the texting revolution coming their way 6 years later. Email continues to evolve as well. We now begin to get even more interesting email forwards that I imagine helped make Snopes.com become the major urban legend checking website it is today.
2008-late 2010– One major event happens that really changes our dynamic in terms of communication – the birth of my daughter, Sophia. My parents begin to follow her development on her own blog (now defunct) and eventually join Facebook as a result of wanting to keep up with her life changes as well as those of her cousins. The Sunday phone chat is replaced with a Sunday video chat. Emails now contain our own actual photos and videos, not just a forward from some guy trying to get out of Senegal. Then, sometime between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday it happens…
Late 2010 – present day – During Thanksgiving, my parents are bombarded by a two-sided attack from my sister and I. “Why don’t you text?” or “You would have know we were going to the store if you had text messaging” and my favorite “I would have sent you that picture of my child via text, but alas, you don’t have that service.” After sustaining those body blows, Christmas brings about a head shot. While shopping for a new computer with my dad, I hand him my iPhone 4 as I’m driving. “Look up prices for different computers in our area” (POW!), followed by “Use the ‘Around Me’ app to see what restarants are in our area” (BAM!) then finally “use the bank app to transfer money from one account to another real quick.” (Knockout!)
On January 10th, 2011 at 7:50pm we have lift off:
And the world of communication, would continue to evolve….even for my parents.