There is no doubt that every generation has had its own learning curve when it comes to the advances of the human race. Each generation reminds the next generation of how hard they really had it when they were growing up and how easy this generation has it now. I know that I am biased but in my opinion, my Baby Boomer generation has had to grow and change at a faster rate than any previous generation and the culprit is technology.
My children laugh at me in disbelief when I tell them that as recent as the 1980’s we had to get up off of the couch to change the TV channel with a nob on the TV that went up to ten numbers although we really only had about 5 channels. They chuckle to hear of pay phones on the street even though those rusting hulks can still be found on street corners or that it was an amazing invention to have machines answer our home phones so we wouldn’t miss calls from family, friends or work. Otherwise one never knew if someone had been trying to reach them and so were blissfully unaware. “Friending” someone meant you most likely went out for a drink together.
Music media, radios, television, and telephones have all changed so rapidly in the past 30 years that we have now included the word “smart” when describing them. Computers are a normal piece of equipment in every household when only 30 years ago such a thing could only be imagined by someone like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. At that time the word “smart” was attributed to a person’s mental acuity or sometimes it was used to describe a sharp dresser. But the most incredible change for us Boomers to adapt to has been the use of social media and the cell phone.
I recall getting my first cell phone about 15 years ago. What a concept! I could carry a little phone everywhere with me and could call my home from anywhere I might be to check-in. As technology developed, I had to learn to text. My daughter sat patiently with my husband and I trying to teach us the technique of texting. I found it hard to get my head around the tiny keyboard although my husband seemed to grasp it right away. He immediately starting texting our daughter who was down the hall in her room! The first text I ever sent was to my son who was then in college. I was so proud of myself for learning how to actually send out the message although the gentle response I got back was that there was a space bar on the phone and I could actually put spaces between my words.
What I have come to love about texting, however, is the use of the queen of virtual emotions, the Emoji. Emoji’s are little graphic cartoons that express emotions in a text and now I can even add them to my email messages. In my opinion, emoji’s cannot be overrated. With a virtual library of a myriad of emotions, one can express sadness, joy, surprise, laughter and everything in between. You can do that with a human face, male or female, a cat or dog face, animal emoji’s, happy or sad faces, hand signals, and even emoji’s for being sick or disgusted.
As a lover of language and good grammar, I have never liked the short form of texting (R U 2 here?) but I have become a lover of the emoji. For some reason, that small, virtual symbol can carry an expression through my text as only words might fail to do. Hysterical, crying laughter emoji expresses things so much better than writing LOL in my opinion. Kisses, hearts, and hugs sent to my loved ones make a generic text a love letter sent through cyberspace. Camels for the workweek Hump Day, birthday cakes with candles, flowers and popping champagne bottles for celebrations, virtual hugs for a bad day. Emoji’s can bring life to the words of a text.
Saying that seems odd, of course. There is no life to the emoji save for the expression they bear. And yet it seems an entire industry has bloomed around emoji’s so much so that even movies have been made with them.
There is a downside, as there always is with too much of a good thing. People spend far too much time on their phones especially in the company of others. My choice would be to express my love in person with the emoji’s as a stand-in. When people are with me, the phone gets tucked away. It makes me sad to see children with parents in a playground or at a restaurant picking at their food as their parent is engrossed in something or someone else on the small screen. It’s disturbing to see a group of adults sitting together but not one talking to the other. In one of the world’s greatest ironies, social media is very isolating. In-person, an emoji is no stand-in.
I am so proud of all of my Boomer friends who have worked through to master smartphones and computer programs. We’ve had to keep up to stay relevant in our jobs. Every one of us has come to it in our own way but now we all know how to search and find information, stay in touch with our adult children, and use our smartphones to post pictures of travel adventures or perhaps a new grandchild. It’s taken time to come to it and I am still learning as things change faster then I can keep up. But I will keep working at it. I think there’s an emoji for that.