Atlantic Journal

Grandparents are cooler than you think!

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Alternate title: Grandchildren are cooler than you think!

I believe grandparents and their grandchildren have quite a bit in common.  Just because many years have passed since a grandparent or great-grandparent was born doesn’t mean that there aren’t any similarities between then and now.  Here’s an example of what I mean, a quote that appeared in the Atlantic Journal:

The world is too big for us.  Too much is going on.  Too many crimes.  Too much violence and excitement.  Try as you will, you get behind in the race in spite of yourself.  It’s a constant strain to keep peace – and still, you lose ground.

Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment.  The political world now changes so rapidly, you’re out of breath trying to keep pace with who’s in and who’s out.  Everything is high pressure.  Human nature can’t endure much more.

An amazing sentiment that appears to reflect what’s going on right this very minute in the world in which we live.  It was published on June 16, 1833, almost 181 years ago.  The pervading feelings of the time are almost indistinguishable from what is in the minds of people today.  Isn’t that amazing?

Let’s look at a few common items that have changed over the years.  These items were used at one time but have vanished in the past several decades – or have they?

Image by Lawrence Manning/Corbis
Image by Lawrence Manning/Corbis

Telephone answering machines – earlier answering machines used cassette tapes, with later versions performing the same function, albeit digitally.  Answering machines still exist in the form of modern voice mail retrieved from home phones and/or cell phones.

Telephone directories/books – very few households rely on a 500-page phone book because they can now look up names and businesses on their computer or Smartphone.  But phone books still exist – they’re just “housed” differently.

Encyclopedia BritannicaPrinted encyclopedias – the final print edition for the Encyclopedia Britannica – a 32-volume set of books – was released in 2010.  How did I find out that information?  In one of today’s on-line encyclopedias of course: Wikipedia.

Five Inch floppy diskFloppy discs & drives – many children under the age of fifteen have never seen this storage device.  You’d be hard-pressed to find any newly-released desktop or laptop computers with this type of storage capability.  But storage devices still exist in the form of a thumb/flash drive or the “Cloud.”

Rolodex – some of us remember, or still have, a box or carousel version of a Rolodex.  But we still own something that holds all our Contacts: our address books contained in our e-mail program and in our cell phone contact list.

35mm-filmPhotographic film – I saved a roll of unused Kodak film.  Since this product is no longer made, it may be worth something some day!  Photos are still being taken, but instead of being developed and placed in a multi-paged album, most of the time these photos remain in our camera or phones, or they end up on social media sharing websites – the new type of photo album.

What I’m attempting to point out is that in many respects, grandparents and their grandchildren are performing the same functions as their younger & older age group, but the manner in which they do so is very different.

Grandparents and grandchildren are different – but the same.  Establishing a common ground – and minimizing the differences between the two groups – can open the door to increased understanding and communication amongst the generations.

Bullying: now versus then.

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In January of this year, I provided a workshop for middle school students (8 to 12 years old) during their school’s annual Health Fair.  Given my predisposition to focus on the older population during my career, I was asked to bring forth a topic that might resonate with, and educate, the children who attended my workshops; something about old people, a topic about which they supposedly knew very little.

The title of my workshop was Your Grandparents are Cooler than you Think.  My goal was to bridge the gap that exists between those aged sixty years and older, with the younger-aged set.  My sophisticated, yet relatable, PowerPoint presentation offered many comparison and contrast examples that tended to disprove that any gap exists between such disparate groups.  (That was my goal.)  One can’t deny that some obvious differences exist, but the similarities with subject matters that really count are quite revealing.  First, I offer you a quote from the Atlantic Journal, challenging you to guess when this particular entry was published.  I read this same quote to the middle school students.

The world is too big for us.  Too much is going on.  Too many crimes.  Too much violence and excitement.  Try as you will, you get behind in the race in spite of yourself.  It’s a constant strain to keep peace  …  and still, you lose ground.

Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment.  The political world now changes so rapidly, you’re out of breath trying to keep pace with who’s in and who’s out.

Everything is high pressure.  Human nature can’t endure much more!

If you guessed that the above quote was ripped from today’s headlines – or thereabouts – you are incorrect.  These vital words were written 180 years ago, published on June 16, 1833.  The common sentiments of that time seem almost indistinguishable from what is in the minds of people today.  Amazing.  I guess we’re not much different from the people living in 1833.

English: this is my own version of what bullyi...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the topics these middle schoolers and I discussed was Bullying.  The students were divided into eight groups of five each and asked to discuss the similarities, if any, of this globally prevalent problem.  Their insights were astounding.  Here is my paraphrase of some of their comments:

I think bullying in the olden days was more physical, whereas today, it’s psychological in nature.

Bullying a long time ago was limited to one-on-one interaction.  Today, if just one person is bullied, that act is broadcast to thousands just by the push of an “enter” key on ones computer.

I think there is little difference between bullying now, versus then.  You see, the motivation is the same; the intent to make someone else feel small; to exert ones power over another.  It doesn’t matter what that looks like or when it took place, the motivation remains the same.

I was humbled by these students, but I should not have been surprised by their astute thinking processes.  Perhaps the person who learned the most during my workshop was the presenter.  I thought I needed to convince them of how similar their elders are to them.  I guess the joke was on me.

The inspiration to write this article can be attributed to the driver behind me on my way home from the store today who bullied me by riding my bumper the entire way home.  My going the speed limit must have been quite an affront to her sensibilities.  (I couldn’t pull over to the side of the road but she had plenty of opportunities to pass me – evidently choosing not to do so.)  At almost sixty years of age, I felt threatened, powerless, and humiliated.