It seems like every time I hear a conversation between two or more people over 40, all they can do is complain about technology. “Kids these days, always on their cell phone and never having REAL interactions.” They honestly seem to think all the problems of the world today exist because of the things they didn’t have when they were young. Of course, this is a large steaming load of BS, and I am going to talk about why.
Older People Do NOT Have More “REAL Interaction” Than Young People
Whenever you pull out an iPhone at a restaurant, you can almost feel yourself being judged. Even TV commercials have begun shaming people for looking at their phones during dinner. But have you ever seen old-people eating dinner out? Yes, they don’t look at an iPhone… but that doesn’t seem to be helping anything.
Here is an older couple (above) that was right next to us at a breakfast diner. Good thing they didn’t have iPhones, otherwise they may not talk to each other…
People have always struggled to have good conversations, deep connections, and interactive relationships. This is not “new” to young people. How many of us are restricted to “How about this weather?” at family gatherings for fear of any other topic starting a war? How often do you see an older couple sit a restaurant just starting at everyone else as if reflecting on everything they have missed out on in life?
Old people are just as awkward, if not more so, with socialization. As a society, we are still overcoming our resentment toward each other, fear of those who are different, and terrible habits of sizing up and judging each other. All these habits, by the way, have been here long before iPhones. So let’s stop tech-shaming and give each other a break.
The Engagement Curve: Old People Will Always Hate New Things
Every generation goes through an “engagement cycle.” It is natural for us to want to change the world when we are young, and then get in the way when we are older. I am not saying that is good, I am just saying that is what happens. See chart below:
As you can see, when we are young we look forward to affecting the world for good. As our generation ages, we get power and control and start seeing how hard it all really is. As we get older, we tend to want to wash our hands of our mistakes and go to the grave thinking “we did the best we could.” This means older people will seldom take responsibility for the present as having anything to do with their own actions, and blame it all on young people.
Breaking the Cycle
New things aren’t better or worse just by being new, and old things aren’t better or worse just by being old. If you don’t want to grow up to be a codger, you need to look at the world of ideas objectively. You also need to be willing to admit mistakes, both yours and the society around you. Otherwise, you will just let your brain rot as you age and refuse to learn and adapt (also known as the Fox News target audience). Everything changes, and change brings new problems as it solves old ones.