Wednesday 7 September 2011

The Generation Game

As I have gone broody over computers time has been spent into looking around. This has not been easy since it means getting the head round all sorts of things that are not familiar. At the shop, going along the displays it is like an old fairground, one amazing spectacular after another to make you part with your hard earned cash.

What this brief excursion into current retail reality has taught me is that the world is changing ever faster and this means many of the jobs in it as well. Communication, the transmission of information, personal contact, data storage, search and research has been transformed. Things that might take days or weeks of running about and effort can be dealt with almost immediately.

This all has its costs. At one time the experience of age and of having lived long would be a vital source of information in a group or community. The ancient who knows how the river can flood because they remember the one of half a century ago or who knows the fields, the stars and the way of the weather was a vital and respected person.

Today the older person who is adrift of all the technology or who does not realise what modern communication systems are and how they work is on the wrong side of a deepening divide. Those who cannot afford to buy into this and are also adrift are equally at a loss. There are many in the Third World also not connected.

It was a strange experience sitting in somebody’s home sipping at a cup of tea while they went on with an international conference on a business matter. Would it be impolite for me to join in or bad manners to stay out? Given the sort of contribution made to conferences and meetings I have attended in the past probably it was better to stick to finding the bottom of the biscuit tin.

Yet I am someone who, because of the accidents of time and place, has a little more experience and knowledge of what is involved. Also, I have ready personal access to other people who know a lot more and are up with the latest developments. If I am beginning to find it hard to stay in the game then it is bad news for the great majority of my generation and perhaps the one following.

One problem with age is the misunderstandings that can arise. Checking out the webcam on one machine for sale when the picture came up I pulled a few faces. The persons across from me looked alarmed as you might expect. I was checking out the response speed and quality of picture but I suspect they thought something else entirely.

The realisation that nowadays I work in a very different way from the past and if I continue to try to keep up it will change further and more radically is a daunting one. Procedures and methods I learned in the mid 20th Century were not too far removed from those of the late 19th, give or take a typewriter or telephone or two.

The economic upshot is that we have an electorate and population now with many at the senior end who have little or no real understanding what most modern work is like or what has to be done to earn incomes whilst the younger ones are on a treadmill of change that is rapidly running faster and faster.

Will the generation gap become a generation war?

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