Calling George Washington (or text msg if you prefer!)
“The boundary of the young child’s world is marked by his horizon. To him (or her), nothing exists beyond the place where earth and sky meet. For the more fortunate child this horizon soon is pushed outward through his experience and through that of those about him. For the great majority of children, however, the widening of the horizon largely depends upon books and the classroom.” Katheryne Whittemore, “Asia, The Great Continent” (1937)
I have been a historical and futuristic person basically my whole life. This to a large degree explains why I am so often misunderstood. I simply have a different reference point. Other things would factor into the equation such as not being rich and famous, not being a charasmatic speaker (I prefer to write and work behind the scenes) and I don’t exactly look like a movie star either.
My grandparents are of “The Greatest Generation”. So being one who came along in the mid 1970’s, I was exposed to Black Sheep Squadron, The Waltons, Charlie’s Angels, Star Wars and all those science fiction shows, DOH, etc… I knew who George Washington, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Al Capone and “Pappy” Boyington were by the age of 5.
The 1980’s and 1990’s were a wonderful time both personally and to a large extent the U.S.A. itself. I reminisce about those days quite often especially in the past few years. Since the turn of this century, I find myself having first-hand exposure to six generations and also connect to what The Lost Generation went through too. I have just this year seen a copy of my great-grandfather’s WWI draft card, several census records, and a picture of both him, his wife, my grandfather when he was a child, and many other relatives that I had not seen before. This is due to two things: having the internet and being able to share online and having a family reunion soon. This will be the first reunion in about 25 years.
So my perspective is this: In my adult life, I relate to and communicate most effectively with the Greatest Generation. They know who George Washington was. I am deeply in love with their movies, the clothes, cars, etc… They have the most patience and conversations can last for several hours and run the gamut of topics. I have often felt both in childhood and especially since the economic downturn that began in 2001 that I should have been born around 100 years ago. Perhaps it is a reaction to those high aspirations and big dreams that I had for myself not panning out like I had hoped. To go from wanting to work in the movies (primarily as a cinematographer and maybe later on producer) to simply things not working out (odd jobs, trying career changes, only to realize that wasn’t me) and so on and so on.
When it comes to the Baby Boomers, their achievements during an unparelled time of economic prosperity are certainly noteworthy. I like their movies (although nothing tops 1920’s-40’s in my mind), TV shows, music, etc… They had fun from the 60’s-90’s. In more recent years however, this fairly obstacle free life has led to a mass delusion of granduer. They expect Social Security and Medicare to be there just like their parents, but they have no experience with a Great Depression or World War. They have gone from fighting the system to joining it. They have lived in the suburbs their whole lives, so the notion of growing your own food and riding a horse is foreign. They kind of know who George Washington was and that he did something like fighting the British, but who cares! They are a bit spoiled by it all. A college degree was a guarantee of riches and a long career. That approach made sense from 1950-2000. It is not a guarantee today. This vastly different result certainly will create tension when they wonder why it did wonders for them, but it doesn’t yield even better results for their children and grandchildren. The American Dream was their overriding ambition and largely obtainable. Guess what? Times change!
Generation X and Y have big ambitions and tech-saavy. Yet even with a age gap of around 15 years, there are some very subtle yet critical differences. A child of the 70’s-80’s didn’t go around with an iPhone in their hand by age 5. The only people who would have been using an Acoustic Coupler and TDD were people who were deaf/hearing impaired or blind. People thought that was a bit odd back then. Now they think I’m odd because my cell phone is basic and while I would thrive professionally in an technology oriented environment (if only all those resumes and a few interviews would amount to something), I personally wouldn’t mind having a few acres of open land, a barn and a few animals. The kids ran around the neighborhood, went to the arcade and movies, enjoyed primetime TV, etc… We also have memories of the Cold War, Berlin Wall, and conflicts in the Middle East. We know that George Washington was around sometime in the 1700’s and that he fought the British. But not much else.
Those born around 1990 have basically spent their most formative years growing up with the internet, cell phones, and the United States during its last (to date) period of economic prosperity. So when will the economy get better? I don’t have a crystal ball, but my study of history leads to me to believe it may not occur until 2020 or so and that is only with radical changes in our basic government structure and some changes in how we live our daily lives. But that is hard to do with several generations who have little or no experience with farming, horses, trains and a USA without a massive government structure and the mass hypnosis that has occurred over the past few decades. They have heard the name George Washington, but don’t know anything about him.
Generation Z are tech savvy by the age of 5 and can even teach their great-grandparents how to do three way video conferencing on a Samsung Galaxy 4. One of my great-grandmothers didn’t even have a washer until she was around 50. They are bright, but perhaps spend way too much time wired up. Believe me, it won’t kill you to get your hair wet or your hands muddy once every month or so. They do everything super fast just because it is the times we live in and they have the attention span of a hornet’s nest. They have probably never even seen a hornet’s nest. I on the other hand have plenty of experience with poison ivy, snakes and even took a nap on the back of a cow once. Mention George Washington and you might as well be from Mars. They will have to deal with some harsh realities in the coming years like Gen X and Y are realizing.
Now stay tuned for the rest of the story. One thing is for sure: We are living in interesting times.