I’m a baby-boomer. I’m a Yuppie. I’m a man. I’m a dad. I’m divorced. I’m re-married. I’m a writer. And, I’m sometimes a mess. It’s a confusing world, no doubt, and the evolution of technology in my lifetime has contributed to my confusion. Let’s consider what has occurred in the past half-century or so, since I was born.
When I was a child, media, and technology were pretty simple. Media meant the newspaper, three networks, and going to the movies. “Live” theatre and concerts were a special treat and the telephone had a dial and a cord. My family had one television set that residing prominently in the living room and it looked like furniture. Our record player, as they were called before “Stereo” was introduced, was designed to look like a side cupboard and was a complicated device that I was not allowed to touch.
I remember, in my early teens, riding my bike wherever I wanted to go and regularly stopping at a local book and record store, where I’d pick up the KHJ Top 40 weekly song list. KHJ no longer exists in Los Angeles. When I had enough change, I’d purchase a favorite single record, which was called “a 45.”
As I frequented this store regularly, I have a fond memory of walking out one day and being stopped by the owner, who seemed ancient to me at the time (he was probably around 40). At first I thought I was in trouble, but the look on his face immediately eased that fear as he handed me a “45” and said, “Here’s something for you.” I remember that is was “Groovy Kind of Love” by The Mindbenders.
When The Beatles hit the shores of the U.S., I watched in wonder their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Our family, like most in those days, had one television set, and we’d watch together during the evenings and I’d watch alone on Saturday mornings.
My parents wisely, though I hated it at the time, didn’t allow me to watch television on school days, so I missed many of my friend’s favorite shows. But, on Fridays and weekends I was allowed to watch and I’d usually go for dinner at my maternal grandparent’s house and watch, “The Rifleman,” “Superman,” my grandpa’s favorite, “Gunsmoke,” and others. “Leave It to Beaver” was a fixture and when I recently learned that Barbara Billingsley had died, it almost felt like a real relative had passed away. I’m sure these shows weren’t all on Fridays, but my memory is a bit fuzzy. My grandpa loved westerns, especially “Bonanza” and that show’s theme song stayed with me.
When I became a parent, I didn’t allow my boys to watch television on school days either, and still don’t, and, I used the “Bonanza” theme to play “Horsey” on my lap when they were still little enough to enjoy that.
Fast-forwarding ahead with this history lesson, “Stereo” was introduced; it seemed to me, when The Beatles came out with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in two versions–a yellow-striped (at the top) stereo version and the regular mono version.
Like so many advances with new technology, my family and others were often hesitant to invest in something new. So, we stuck with our mono living room record player. I didn’t get a real “Stereo” until I was living on my own, after college. I did live on my own, right after college, a seemingly quaint idea nowadays.
Skipping ahead further on this journey, the technological evolution continued with Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, cassette tapes, power windows, the first massive computers, color television, 8-Track stereo, transistor radios, car stereos that blew you away with their volume, bigger and then smaller television sets, automatic transmissions, foreign cars, television video recorders, CDs, and the home computer.
But, in those days these new generation of devices occurred, it seemed, almost with each generation rather than with each season, as they do now. My parents, and my generation, were able to adjust, learn the new devices, and mostly enjoyed these “upgrades.”
By the time VCRs were commonplace, my parents were lost and I vividly remember trying to teach them how to program the one that I bought for them so they could watch their favorite shows whenever they wanted and skip the commercials. It was a hopeless effort, in spite of painstakingly showing them and providing a “cheat sheet” with step-by-step instructions.
As most parents know, the cliché, “what goes around comes around,” usually does happen and I’ve found myself turning to my boys for help with new technology to only be greeted by their exasperation and impatience when I don’t “get it” right away. Parents now should know about Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Dating websites, Online Safety for our kids, and so much more. Our kids want “smart” phones, iPads, iPods, portable video games, laptops, and communicate via texting and chatting. It is truly overwhelming!
I’d rather not have to get “that look” from my kids the next time I want to learn how to program my “smart” phone that makes me feel anything but “smart.” Don’t you feel the same?
Get Bruce’s new book and Limited Edition (of 500) Poster, A Dad’s Point-of-View: We ARE Half the Equation at Amazon, iTunes, BN.com, or The Store here on our web site.