immune to your consultations


Nature punishes any creature that lacks flexibility. You see it everywhere from the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event to pop music: if you don’t find something to love about the future, the future is taken away from you. I’d say we’re in the middle of a transition period right this second, the kind of massive change that will leave many of you surfing on the thrill side of the wave, and some of you drowning in the lonely doldrums of the past.

It’s easy to spot the biggest drags: above 50, they’re the ones who think it’s funny they can’t turn on a computer; above 40, they’re the ones who can’t go a full day without complaining about Facebook and Twitter. It’s more than just a deeply unfunny, clichéd reaction to technology, it’s the whole package. It’s the belief that there was some “better” time about twenty years ago when technology was in balance with nature – we had our VCRs, but kids still played outside.

That sort of era-ism is a crock of shit, and features the kind of historical arbitrariness that makes my friend Ehren hate the Amish. Really, at this point, you can be a silent Luddite with my blessing, but the minute you start complaining about Twitter feeds and Kids Today™, you’re worse than the Amish, because none of you even have horses.

Having a small child right now offers some pretty amazing perspective if you’re willing to take it. Lucy will never know a world without the constancy of the internet; she will not see it as something you “log on to” or even differentiate it from “the real world”. It will be a silent constant like nitrogen, and its presence (along with people and trees) will be “the real world”. She will not be thankful for it, the same way none of us are thankful about electricity.

With this comes a certain amount of resentment, which is why it’s so easy to hate teenagers. They frolic in the blind largesse of their forebears, taking for granted the things we struggled to create. We think it’s not fair that they didn’t know a world without iPods, it’s not fair that they’ll never have to clean a chalkboard. Hell, I have a bit of resentment over the kids currently in Hinton James dorm for having fucking AIR CONDITIONING.

And yet, those of us in Gen X who can look at the Millennials without wanting to slap them? We’ll be the ones still clutching a tiny bit of relevance. Kids don’t care what anyone thinks anyway, but if you start complaining about their culture, you might as well be dead. You can look upon the winner of the texting championship with disgust, but I might remind you I got 3rd place in the Rubik’s Cube solving contest at Military Circle Mall in 1981. Time will tell which skill set proved more useful.


I somewhat hate the current culture of video games, but at least I understand that as MY failing. I’m still stuck in the arcade days of Defender, Gyruss and Galaga and felt like everything past Doom was just too fucking complicated and an inexcusable time-suck. Sure, I gots the Wii, but that’s a little like the white kids in 1990 saying they loved Three Feet High and Rising.

So I put it to you: what is your immediate reaction upon the introduction of a new technology: knee-jerk hatred or vague excitement? Do you actually feel like the tech revolution has gotten out of control, or is it the same as it ever was? And do you believe video games make kids obese, or is it their parents?

0 thoughts on “immune to your consultations

  1. Ellani

    I love new technology…my new laptop is my favorite toy at the moment. Don’t get me started on the joys of what I can do with my digital photos. Yes, I can still read a map, even though I love to use our Navi for our vacations (we live in Europe, and it really comes in handy in all the different countries we visit). Cell phones, the internet, IPod (all my music in a tiny package!!!) etc. are all amazing and it is sometimes hard to remember how it used to be without them.
    Having said all that, I still haven’t jumped the bandwagon with Facebook. Early on, it spammed me like crazy after two family members joined. The extent of Facebook’s ‘hard sell’ to get me to join really rubbed me the wrong way.
    For me the divide seems to be somewhere between the personal and the private. Technology that enriches my personal life is fabulous, but I still would rather protect some aspects of my private life. Facebook has had its issues with protecting people’s privacy, and that makes it unattractive for me.
    Could there be a segment of the 40+ population who are technologically savvy, but wary of the invasion into the personal sphere? Is that Luddite?
    Our children will surely be less concerned about this (and probably better equipped to deal with the issues involved) having grown up in a net culture.

  2. josie

    Love it – the post and technology. I really adore my gadgets, and places internet. However, I am no longer in “early adopter” territory…too much competing for my attention.
    Facebook is case in point: I resisted joining for a long time, but glad I finally did – love it! There may be privacy issues for people who don’t know how to use their privacy settings, but i am very comfy with it. I can post anything with granular detail on who is allowed to “see” it.
    Most (not all) of the Facebook privacy bruhaha is hyperbole. It’s all about advertising – no one is selling your data – they sell access to your demographic for little right-hand column ads. They ascertain your demographic from your content. How is Nielsen Media Research any different?

  3. Ellani

    josie: I think you are minimizing the debate over Facebook. Knowing how to use your privacy settings isn’t enough, as recent incidents in which privacy settings were ‘erased’ and users’ complete information were made public. Wired and other tech-friendly media have serious critiques of Facebook’s information/privacy practices.
    For example, if your email address is distributed along with your personal information, there is much more than demographic information being sold. My brother writes this kind of programming and there is a lot more to it than anonymous demographics these days.
    There are other online social networks out there whose features are easier to customize, less interested in selling your information for a buck, and whose default settings and user interfaces are geared to protect privacy from the get go.

  4. kent

    I’m a technophile in a family of technophiles — I was on the Internet as soon as it was humanly possible, I met Marc Andreesen when he was a grad student at the University of Illinois, my first web page dates to the mid-90s.
    But I’ve learned one thing — unless you have a compelling immediate need for new tech, you’re best served by waiting until it’s life cycle is approaching the commodity plateau. Like not buying a DVD player until they went below $100 at Target, for example.
    Otherwise you pay the earlier adopter tax, and get products that haven’t matured into appliances. Tinkering with stuff that isn’t finished yet is a young person’s game.

  5. the other lee

    Brilliant entry Ian and I total agree. I love new tech and I love the people that are coming up with it, heck I even love that there are groups of people who have pooled together doing bioscience in their garages, it’s all brilliant. Even on the things I don’t necessarily use, like twitter and blogging I appreciate why people use them and see the benefit. Some tech is useless, which is why it doesn’t take off (i.e. the cue-cat thing and many dot coms that were just imitations of existing websites or bad ideas to start out with) but if something starts getting mainstream recognition and stands on it’s own merit then it is worth at least checking out and knowing about even if you don’t use it. So once again a very spot on technology inspired post.

  6. Anne

    Um. As Mary (Bozoette, above) and I can attest, some of us Boomers were early adopters of new communication technology and continue to embrace each development eagerly once we see its usefulness. And I am 58. In the 1990s I was the first to get an alumni magazine available electronically — first through file transfer technology, then, as soon as it became available, on the WWW. I was the first of my editorial peers to create a staff position dedicated to Web publishing and electronic communication.
    In the 1980s I wrote one of the first feature articles on the wizard-geeks at Pixar, just dipping their toes into the commercial film field (“Young Sherlock Holmes” was the one they demo-ed for me). At that same time I visted and wrote about George Lucas’s new enterprise, Industrial Light and Magic. (Man, that was a great trip to California….) :-)
    So watch those generational generalizations, kid! :-) Most of my friends and peers in our 50s and 60s are sophisticated users of all this stuff. Maybe some in their 70s and 80s would fit your description (unable to turn on a computer, and uninterested in learning). Something new? Bring it on!

  7. GFWD

    Where did you see that Galaga quilt? I want it, my precious. There is full-sized multi-old-school arcade machine featuring Galaga in the Mexican restaurant around the corner from my house. My newest cross-generational technology bonding experience with my 4 year old son is to gather all of the quarters in the house before we leave and then join forces to play Galaga. He lets me steer while he fires. We’re pretty fucking good, too and he loves it as much as I did when I was a kid. Then we retire to play the Wii and Mario Kart featuring the characters from Madagascar.
    Old school and new school can live in harmony.

  8. Lee

    I LOVE new technology and am frustrated that I can’t always afford the newest toy- like the ipad. My 3 year old can work my iphone as well as anyone and only isn’t allowed to play with it when she throws it across the room (tomorrow will be day 7 and she gets to play with it again with limited supervision till she can prove she won’t get pissed and throw it).
    Most technology I don’t have a problem with – video games, facebook whatever b/c you can be present while you play it. My beef with Twitter is that you can’t “live” life if you’re constantly “recording” it. It’s why we (americans) used to make fun of japanese tourists b/c they never turned their video camera off and so you wondered how they ever got to “experience” the journey.
    I wouldn’t want to waste my time hanging out with someone who was twittering about it the whole time. I’d rather be playing Galaga by myself.

  9. MarkC

    My first reaction is almost always indifference. I am not a first mover on technology. I wait a while see if it sticks and takes hold, then like any good American determine whether it can be of any practical use to me (American being somewhat self-center and practical as a gross generalization).
    Good example was my first Blackberry (still have it will explain), my company trained me on it, I kind of ignored it and then six months or so later found it quite useful when traveling and have been hooked since. My wife looks at my ancient Blackberry now and urges me to get the company to provide me with a new one, but it still works and meets my needs so why change?
    See a pattern?

  10. littlerattyratratrat

    “[…] you’re worse than the Amish, because none of you even have horses.”
    Thanks, man. I needed that.
    Despite being old, I have an iPad, and even know how to program it. I teach computation and new media stuff to incoming freshmen at a little liberal arts college. So, I’m not a technophobe.
    I don’t know if the students have new skills to balance their loss of traditional ones. One person’s brainrot is anothers paradigm-shift. Cultures do evolve, but they also get old and die. Who the f**k can tell from the inside? It’s that Chinese curse; we do indeed live in interesting times.

  11. FreshPaul

    the problem isn’t the technology…the problem is when every new thing is treated is a magic panacea to all the existing problems; new technology can tempt us to impart to ourselves an innate superiority over our ancestors instead of doing what it should: respecting and improving upon the past.
    Uncritically accepting all technology as a positive innovation/cure for all of our ills is most noxiously evident in my field of education. How often have I heard corporate know-nothings without an ounce of education experience laud the latest software/earth-changing benefits of laptops/clickers/powerpoints/etc? It’s asinine…technology is a tool, not a pedagogy, and it’s simply lazy to pretend that it exists as a shiny new panacea. Somehow, we’ve gone from “gadgets are neat” to uncritically accepting any new innovation as a positive one (and I’m speaking in my field, primarily).
    One example, particularly odious, from my backyard:
    shiny new shit doesn’t = better teaching.

  12. craighill

    we had vcrs (albeit with cabled remotes) and kids DID play outside. don’t see that balance too often these days. that was a better era in my book any day.

  13. xuxE

    well judging by the little petri dish otherwise known as my kids, technology doesn’t squash the attraction of interacting with other kids IRL and playing outdoors and such.
    my 7 & 10 yo have laptops, mp3 players, desktops, nintendo ds, wii, psp, little mini tenori-on things which are hella fresh, electronic drums and keyboards and i’d have to say that just about anything that lights up or has a silicon chip will eventually wind up in their hands. 10yo just got a cellphone. not to mention they literally grew up in a recording studio from the time they were infants, playing with old mixers and quarter inch cables. i’d say they have been pretty much surrounded with technology since day one.
    and i can tell you with 100% certainty none of that has killed their fascination with pogo sticks or jungle gyms or scooters. they’d drop any game they are playing or tv show they are watching if you offer to take them to the roller rink, pool, or park. they are just as normal as you would expect kids to be using that *back in the day* yardstick.
    in fact i just recently cleaned out one side of the basement and set it up as a library/arts & craft zone and they are totally in love with it. they played a crazy 2 hour game of monopoly with their friends down there the other night. they are begging me to put bean bag chairs down there to sit and read in. and there is no tv in that space, just shelves with all their books, and art supplies a rug, a low table and chairs, and a mural they painted. all that’s missing is wood panelling and a foosball table and it’s some kind of low tech rec room circa 1978.
    so really, video games and technology are just SO not the great evil people make them out to be. in fact the one kid i know who does take a lot of coaxing to get out and do active stuff is…
    a voracious reader.
    would rather sit on the side and just read a book majority of the time.
    so i think there’s really no technology required for kids to embrace their inner couch potato and block out the real world if that’s what they want to do and that’s what you let them do.

  14. josie

    Ellani, I am sorry; I didn’t mean to pick on you. I was pretty upset when my tightly controlled little settings went away, and certainly I think the collective foul call was merited. I think the controls available to me have improved a lot as a result of the backlash, and agree that FB is in the “distrust” column as a result of such actions.


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