phone directories

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.