Bridging the Gap

Bow River, Calgary, AB

Dec 4, 2010

I now know that one indication of ageing is discovering that I am on the ‘other side’ of the generation gap.  Peoples’ changing values and attitudes can be challenging and, independent of which side of the gap we live on, we are usually significantly disconnected from each other.

Recently, I spent one evening with my in-laws singing the theme to the Happy Gang from CBC Radio in the early 50s.  I was amazed and somewhat embarrassed that I remembered most of the words.  The next evening I spent some time playing with my grandson as he manipulated a computer controlled truck that rumbled across the carpet playing ‘Who let the dogs out’. Again, I knew most of the words.  I came away thinking of the enormous span that my life and knowledge covers.  No wonder I find myself confused much of the time.

In this time of quick, global communications and people living with the fantasy of multitasking, I can’t help but wonder what the new pace of life is doing to us in the long term.  Many of those people who end up at the top of the ladders of life - corporate, political, or social - seem to handle the stress that comes with this rapid pace - but what about the rest of us?

I know that the energy of youth enables them to accomplish more in a day than we in our later years can handle, but I didn’t do as much in my thirty-something years as those of that age do today.  Today, I often hear people complaining about an unhealthy lack of sleep that they live with every day.  Is this one of the consequences of living at this new pace?  Surely, in the long term, this can’t be good.

On a positive note, I am completely engaged with things like my iPod, digital photography, the internet, and word processing.  These few things that my in-laws take as wonders and my grandchildren consider part of everyday life, have stimulated my creative mind.  I’m not sure where I would have found such stimuli thirty years ago.

I love to see how my grandchildren wade, uninhibited, into any new technology put in front of them and quickly make it part of their lives.  Their ability to gain knowledge on many more things much faster than I could will, I hope, give them better global awareness than I had in my youth.  I also hope they can learn to avoid the plethora of junk, bitterness, and unacceptable information that is floating around in the internet space.  Filling up one’s day immersed in that twaddle is surely one of the more significant time-wasters of life.

Sometimes I find myself wondering what it would be like for my long-departed parents to arrive back in our world for a couple of years.  I’m fairly sure my Mom would become an e-mail and Facebook ‘aficionada’ in no time.  Dad might pick up an iPad for reading, but I’m not so sure.  I do know he would have loved to have a GPS in his car.

This generation gap has a lot to do with change and I think I’ve successfully and quite happily  adapted.  However, don’t get me started on the ‘new language’ of Canada where words such as ‘artefact’ are now spelled ‘artefact’ and, like, I totally don’t like the totally new way we speak these days.  When it comes to this subject, I will keep my feet firmly planted on my side of the generation gap.

Afterword:

You who are living Calgary will recognise that this is not a photograph from the recent past.  There is no Encana building.  I couldn’t easily find something that was close to having a relationship to the essay, but I thought this photograph had at least some connection.