Generational gaps

My grandma opened a laptop a few weeks ago. Well, my father opened the laptop in front of her, while she sat peering through thick glasses, her hands curled in her lap. The screen booted up, and my grandma sat silently for a moment. Then, looking at my father, she gestured at the keyboard and trackpad and said, “Now what’s all this junk?”

I watched the video my mother had sent of this moment, and laughed. Grandma will never know how to use computers. But really, there’s a reason for that. The pace of change today is so rapid, and the nuance of change from iteration to iteration so complex. If you don’t keep up with each new version, you’ll quickly get lost in the sea of change. We tend to take out own understanding for granted.

A dotted line, or a variation in color, or the placement of a certain word is enough to clue us in on how to navigate a smartphone menu. We know where to click. We know where hidden options lay, where links are stowed and what benign gestures lead us from place to place in our digital worlds. Because we’ve walked through the experimentation, and experienced the iteration.

We expect proficiency and understanding, but we need grace and patience. It may seem obvious to us, but that never matters. We are completely different people, and completely different generations. We need to accept the beauty in that, as well as the challenge, and work to bridge the gap.

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