Now that I’m well into my 40s, I’ve noticed an alarming trend among some of my peers who grew up during the literal videogaming and personal computing revolution of the 1980s (with nods to the breakthroughs of the 1970s and 1990s), and that’s that they’re growing increasingly frustrated with how things are today from a technological and social standpoint. While that’s inevitable with every generation as it ages, it’s no less alarming for those of us who thinks there’s a better way.
For instance, when the online, i.e., connected, community was much smaller in the 1980s, which generally consisted of those of us lucky enough to get on mostly local BBS‘s or one of the foundational (and incredibly expensive) online services, we were more likely to find other people with similar mindsets and goals. You pretty much had to be a certain type of person to even know how to get on a BBS or online service, let alone find it interesting enough to stick around and be part of the community. The difference today is that the pool of people is much larger with a much, much lower barrier to entry, which is indeed well and truly finally representative of the promise of computing for the masses that could only be aspired to, rather than acted upon, in the 1980s. This creates greater opportunities for more interesting discussions and ideas, but also greater opportunities for completely alien discussions and ideas.
Really, on average, it’s no better or worse today, just different and perhaps just a bit more overwhelming if you weren’t born natively into it. Of course, as stated, as many of us get older, we’ll become less tolerant of change and more reflective of how much “better” things used to be way back when, as of course, memories tend to focus mostly on the positives rather than all the negatives. Every generation goes through that as it ages, looking down on the new generation, new ways of thinking about social issues, etc., and the newest generation in turn will do the same as they age, ad infinitum.
Personally, I try to be mindful of falling into that trap and fully embrace the new while remembering the old, and trying to remember both the good and the bad to keep it all in perspective. I know opinions amongst my formerly like-minded peers are fairly divided in that regard, with some really hating the new way of doing things (social media and revealing too much to the public, digital downloads over physical ownership, etc.) and some others more or less freely moving on with the times. Even though I’m with the latter group, I suspect as the decades pass, our numbers will grow ever smaller. My sincere wish is to be one of the last of that group standing.