In this section, we aim to shed light on what we view to be a glaring divergence of opinions between our parents’ generation and our own. We seek to voice our perspective on matters that cause friction between the old and the young.
Student Perspective by Alex ’14
Our generation has technology running through its veins; many babies in America are practically born with iPhones in their hands. My mother, on the other hand, calls her iPhone her “texter.” We students use technology everyday for everything, and we feel lost without it. But when my friend’s parent recently forgot the login password she’d established for her new MacBook Air, she decided she didn’t want to go to the Apple Store for help. Now she is permanently locked out of a new computer.
Technology is a part of our daily lives that we shouldn’t be asked to relinquish. Parents need to accept that while they might not need, like or understand technology, we do.
A lot of parents don’t realize that we absolutely need our computers to do our schoolwork. As a result, parents try to limit the amount of time that we can spend on our computers at night. Some even set a timed logout on their daughter’s computer or force their daughter to give up her electronics after a certain hour. Unfortunately that time is usually around 10 p.m., and Marlborough girls often have to slave over work until the wee hours of the morn. We need the Internet to check Haiku LMS to download our AP Biology study guide, to e-mail English instructor David Long for an extension on that essay that we haven’t started and to Google “Marxism” to finish our AP European study questions. Many teachers don’t print out assignment sheets or other handouts. “Everything is online,” they tell us. Therefore, it is crucial that we have access to these materials as well as any other scholarly information that the Internet has to offer.
Parents also don’t understand how indifferent our generation is to the existence of photos and videos of ourselves on the Internet. We are all avid users of Snapchat, Vine and other social media apps that post or share funny pictures or videos. We don’t think twice about the heinous face that we just made or the dumb way we just acted in a Vine. “You aren’t going to be happy if you run for president and you see that awful picture of yourself on a billboard!” my dad say. Many parents fear these photos or other personal information will end up hurting our employment prospects some day. But we, as a generation, don’t mind that in 20 years people will judge us for weird faces or obnoxious photos. Everyone will have made one such immature or stupid post, and we will all laugh about it and move on (Unlike our parents, who hide embarrassing Polaroids of them in their “prime” when our grandparents haul old photographs out!)
Parents don’t understand that we need technology. Instead, they tell us to put down our phones or stay off of our computers for a week. What they don’t seem to understand is that we eat, sleep and breathe technology. The Internet has become so ingrained in our society that we can’t live without it and don’t plan on trying anytime soon.
Parent Perspective by Carla Kettner-Solomon (mother of Remy ’14)
When my daughter, Remy ’14 (I’m beginning to think that “14” is her middle name), asked me to write a piece for The UV on the generation gap in technology, I decided to start with a casual inventory of the electronic devices in her room.
Okay, here we go: a Macbook, the Toshiba laptop she had before she had the Macbook (used for running her old PC games), an iPhone, an iTouch, an iPad, a Kindle, a Nano (that hasn’t been charged in two years), two graphing calculators (there used to be one, but she thought she lost it and I had to buy another), a printer, an iHome, an assortment of thumb drives, and a SECOND iPhone that gets docked in her car. That second iPhone used to belong to her father but its retirement gig is playing music and receiving the occasional mysterious text, in, I suppose, an effort to recapture its glory days.
I say this because in Remy’s generation, technology is trying so hard not to be technical that it’s virtually human (Hey, Siri, can you remind me I have to check Remy ’s skirt length for Ring Ceremony?).
The only electronic device Remy does not have in her room is a TV. Because A) I’m mean and won’t let her and B) Who needs TV when you have Netflix? Within a fifty-foot radius of Remy’s room you will also find three flat-screen TVs, three DVRs, three Apple TVs, a Wii and three remote controls so technologically advanced that when they break they require two men with a van and university degrees to come fix them. Which is a different set of men with a van and university degrees that are required when the Wi-Fi goes down. This doesn’t happen often, because if you look in our basement you will find routers and cables so impressive that if everything goes to hell, we can probably run the power grid and maybe even a small eastern European country.
Okay, so you got that? Remy has, at her fingertips, more computing power than the entire Pentagon circa 1996, the year she was born.
Here’s what I had in the way of technology when I was her age: a bicycle. You may think this doesn’t qualify as technology, but my bicycle was crucial to the research process because that’s how I got to the library. Which was where research happened prior to Wikipedia. Instead of those two graphing calculators, I had one Casio calculator. My Casio was acquired on a trip to Vegas and always had a faint air of showgirls and single malts. It was made very clear to me that if I lost this one Casio calculator, I would be using a slide rule for the rest of my high school career. For those of you who weren’t around when dinosaurs roamed the earth, slide rules looked like rulers with pieces that slid back and forth and which, when accompanied by a booklet with a lot of charts, allowed you to calculate sines and cosines. The Casio was as close as I got to technology until my dad decided to fork over 1500 bucks and buy us a Betamax. For those of you who didn’t know what a slide rule is, Betamax was what teenagers had before VHS. Which was before DVDs. Which was before streaming video. This was so long ago, you could practically taste the Oregon Trail.
Okay, I’m exaggerating slightly, because as an early Early Adapter, I was the proud owner of the great and wonderful Tandy 1000 computer. I purchased it at Radio Shack, which was where early humans went before the Apple Store. It was called the Tandy 1000 because there were 1000 things that could go wrong. When that happened, here’s what you did: Cry. That’s right, contemporaries of Remy , believe it or not, there was no Genius Bar. Possibly because the guys who invented this thing were no geniuses. We had no friendly little icons to click on when the great and wonderful Tandy 1000 crashed. My contemporaries and I had to learn actual computer language. If you think French is tough, try DOS, or, God forbid, BASIC. While you couldn’t actually get on the Internet with the Tandy 1000 (mostly because there wasn’t an Internet), you could plug in a joystick and play a game. We bought those on 5¼ inch floppy discs. Those were what teenagers had before 3½ inch discs. Which were before CDs. Which were before thumb drives.
Today, when I logged onto my computer, it greeted me with helpful tabs filled with photos and programs and news (“Italy Gripped By Pizza Crisis!”). Back then, when I turned on my Tandy, all I got was a faint greenish-black glow and a “>”. If I didn’t know what to put after that “>”, I was toast.
To Remy and her peers, this may sound like a nightmare. But here’s the truth: There was no greater satisfaction than diving into that CONFIG.SYS and getting the great and wonderful Tandy to work again. It felt good to dig through a dusty card catalogue and find the book you need so your quotes could sound smart in an English paper. And before that Betamax showed up, I was perfectly happy getting on my bike and going to the movie theater. The world didn’t come to our room, like it does to Remy ’s; we had to go to the world. My head wasn’t filled with Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat and Instagram; it was filled with dreams. And I hope, Remy, that somewhere in all your technology you leave a little room for those.