Saturday, October 24, 2015

Brave New World

I plopped myself down for lunch with a bowl of miso noodle soup across from two of my work associates. Two young-enough-to-almost-be-my-grandchildren associates. One is 19, the other is 22.

“The app’s available now,” the older one said, a male. “Did you get it?

“It’s available now?” asked the younger one, a female.

“Yeah, I just downloaded it yesterday.”

“I don’t have enough memory.”

“What app are you talking about?” I asked.

“It’s the middle finger app,” said the older one.

“A middle finger app? You’re kidding me,” I said.

He handed me his phone, and stacked on the right side were about 10 different middle finger emojis, each a different hand color. It was heartwarming to know that the makers of middle finger emojis created something with diversity in mind.

I wanted to blurt out, “This is what you are talking about, what excites you, a middle finger emoji?”

Instead I felt sad and out of touch. I reared back in time and wondered what product or trend I was into that may have caused my father serious pause or concern. I know he hated rock and roll, which I listened to incessantly, but usually behind closed doors in my bedroom and rarely too loud. We both loved sports, so we had shared interests. We didn’t get the Pong video game on our TV until I was 13 or so, and my brother and I only played it on weekends.

I know he also hated my ripped jeans and longer hair. I don’t think he cared that I collected sports cards, read MAD magazine, played with my footsie toy, fought with G.I. Joe and plastic astronauts in the bathtub, or rode a banana seat bicycle.

I am not saying I once dwelled and flourished in the land of ‘things were better then’, but this screen saturation and invasion where young people have to use emojis and emoticons and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and whatever else, right away, or their heads will implode or explode, depending on which option presents a better selfie, is getting to me.

Miguel does his homework with his laptop propped against his knees, with a baseball playoff game on TV, his cell phone tucked under him. And when he gets a text or Facebook update he has to respond immediately or he will instantaneously combust.

Call me old-fashioned or just old, but I think some of our youth go overboard with their devotion to anything electronic. Just today Miguel bemoaned the fact that he hasn’t won much when he plays someone else online in FIFA soccer. This was after he criticized golfers for not being athletes. And he’s the incoming captain of the high school golf team! At least it’s outdoors even if it’s, as John Feinstein wrote, “ a good walk spoiled.”

Yes, it’s ironic that my vent, er, blog post is being created on a computer, which allows me to cut, paste, insert graphics, or use spell check, not the manual typewriter of my own youth that  clacked away through high school and college. But, hey, if you don’t like that I am also a tangle of contradictions then I have several ethnic middle finger emojis just for you.

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