Being Dynamic: What it means to me as a child of the 80’s.
I’m of a generation best defined as Analog / Digital. When I first heard this used to describe people born in the early to mid 80’s, it made total sense to me.
Being dynamic has been a survival mechanism for every generation. There is always a need to adapt. In my lifetime, the most notable change and need for adaptation has come through as a Tsunami of new technology.
Love for Analog / Digital
Unlike other generational labels like Gen X, Baby Boomers, and the often picked on Millenials, Analog /Digital was an accurate and kind assessment of my people. Almost all are used pejoratively, to highlight the worst of generational values, to call out the cultural demolishment of the preceding group.
The Analog / Digital age is a more romantic term. It links arms between the past and the present, calling out what we were, and who we have become with two simple yet strikingly visual words. It’s hard not to immediately think of a clock with the boxy numbers lit up in red and a few buttons to tune the radio. That was considered digital when we were young! Now we can shout at the in house robots we keep to give us the time. Ours is a rags to riches story.
As an analog kid, a lot of my dreams have come true. I use to watch hours of television and hated commercial breaks. In addition, there were seemingly endless waits to see a new episode of your favorite series. It was torture. Of course, no spoilers, this dream was realized with Netflix, HBO, and all the apps I now enjoy as an adult in the digital age.
I can also make my own carbonated water at home. This was an otherworldly concept as a kid due to an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, where characters could say a drink they wanted, orange juice, and it would pour into a cup. Because of seeing that on our enormous television growing up, I’m still amazed by the fountain drink machines at movie theaters. Still waiting on teletransportation.
Born in 1983, my college experience consisted of bulky macbooks in a computer lab! That is where I spent writing a 20 page paper on the poem, Howl. There is now a movement on brevity, Twitter and other platforms limiting the number of characters we can use to express ourselves. This may have been inspired by the unnecessary barrage of 20 page papers those “millennial” creatives had to write in college.
Our cell phones flipped, and I wore mine on a chain around my neck because it was top notch technology and I didn’t want it to break. When it comes to videos games, I am behind the times, but I do know the common analog word, joystick, sounds inappropriate now, proving that reality has not only been infused with digital, but has gone virtual as well.
A friend of mine said her five year old nephew was recently given a paperback book and started swiping the paper, like you would an iPad or Kindle, to turn the page. Where we had neon slapstick bracelets, they have smart watches. Where we had mandatory $80 graphing calculators, they have free cell phone apps. Our education seems obsolete, money and shelf space wasted on the Encyclopedia Britannica. Now in a new frontier democratizing education in the digital age.
What it means to me
I love that I can experience this time in history, even record it, and play it back from the palm of my hand if I want. My alarm clock talks to me. I can ask it to set the time and play a specific song to wake me up. I don’t miss pressing stop and record a hundred times to get the perfect mixed cassette for a friend. I do miss making homemade playlists for friends. They come ready made now, a playlist for almost anything on my Spotify app.
There was a delightful chaos in using a phone booth to call collect. I can easily recall the weight of the black phone and unruly metallic cord, the distance I kept away from my mouth to protect me from germs as I spoke into it. Who was I calling collect all the time, I now wonder. There will be someone who reads that and has no idea what I’m talking about. It’s this joy of collective memory, a sense of belonging, that binds a group of people with these types of names. When I say I’m nostalgic about the analog years of my life, it is by way of honoring those experiences, not actually wanting to experience them again.
I feel dynamic in the sense that, unlike my parents’ generation who worked at the same company for decades, I have enjoyed being a factotum. The accessibility to learn new things and connect with people is an extraordinary byproduct of the digital age.
I’m publishing stories with the click of a button, and people I don’t know, all over the world, may or may not read them, instantly. These are people I may or may not meet in the real world, but I could read about or connect with just as easily as I can typing the letters out on my typewriter, or Macbook Pro. or being that I am a dynamic child of the 80’s, both.