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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Those defining generation gaps
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Friday, February 8, 2013


A friend gave me an Atari many years ago that had the game "Donkey Kong" on it, and she also gave me a game called "Pong."

I played the games several times and quickly lost interest.

Bouncing a ball or escaping the clutches of a monkey king electronically simply did nothing for me at all. I was quite bored.

I needed direct physical interaction, like with a lever and pin ball. Or a ball and bat. Or a game board as in Monopoly or a card game like poker.

I understood the actions and reactions in these games, and they also were fun because I did with them other people.

My oldest son, on the other hand, was about 3 or 4 years old at the time and took to the electronic games immediately. To my surprise, he could easily beat me (okay, maybe that's one of the reasons I quickly lost interest).

He, of course, grew up to play all of the sophisticated video games, and play them well. I didn't understand the attraction, and still don't.

That is, of course, called a "generation gap," and it usually happens when children and their parents are not on the same page, usually with cultural issues.

I remember encountering that generation gap when I was growing up, initially through music. Not only did I have a gap with my mother, but also with my sister who is only four years older than me, but basically a child of the 50s. I was a child of the 60s.

They preferred traditional country, gospel and some beach music. I was a rock n' roller all the way.

The gap was also apparent in lifestyles, as many of us clearly remember the major cultural transition from the traditional 1950s to the radical 1960s.

When I started having children of my own, the generation gap was not nearly as profound as before, but it was there, especially with video games.

In fact, I really don't know of any other notable generation gap between me and my oldest son and daughter.

Well, I had not thought anything at all about generation gaps in quite some time until I was talking recently with that very same son, Chris, who is now 32.

He said that, for the first time, he was experiencing a generation gap, between him and his teenage brother and sister, who are the king and queen of social media.

Tweeting, texting, Facebooking (can Facebook be used as a verb?), they spend most of their waking hours with cell phone in hand, connecting to their friends.

Although Chris sees some value in this type of communication, especially among professional colleagues, the "social" part of it concerned him.

Where's the face-to-face interaction?

Why does anyone care what somebody else is doing 24 hours a day?

Why would anyone put so much personal information on the internet?

How will all of this over time change our society?

Will it change the way people interact with each other when they are face to face and try to work together?

Of course, this is a generation gap Chris and I share with his two young siblings. I don't get the social media thing either.

I was recently watching an episode of a favorite TV series and across the bottom of the screen appeared the message that you could, while watching, share your thoughts about what was happening with others.

Now, let me get this straight.

I can watch this show and take the time DURING the show to make and receive comments about what is happening.

You have got to be kidding!

Why in the name of all that's sane would anyone want to do that?

I like to, uh, pay attention and enjoy the show, undisturbed.

If I want to discuss the show with another person, I will do it after the show is over.

Maybe the real danger of social networking is that there is too much communication.

People may start losing the ability to actually think for themselves, needing others to constantly chime in and give opinions, or just tell them what to do, what to think.

Ummmm. Is there some sort of government conspiracy going on here?

Yes, I am definitely a child of the 60s.

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