Thursday, February 8, 2007

Child's Play

Nothing makes me feel older than dropping all sorts of pop culture references from my youth and getting that blank stare back. You know that 'what bizarre world did you come from' look? I'm not the only one that gets that look, right? Right??!!!

The other day at lunch two 20-somethings are talking about shows they watch growing up. Mickey Mouse Club, Kids Incorporated, Saved by the Bell. That's fine. Different generations and all, but what killed me was this line:

"I used to watch all of those shows on Disney Channel"

Why does this kill me? Because the Disney Channel didn't even freakin' exist when I was a kid. I had to watch 'Speed Racer', 'The Banana Splits' and 'Star Blazers' on UHF 56. Oh, we had cable. I even figured out the old index card trick on the original cable boxes so we could get all the channels. But cable was just getting off the ground. There weren't specialty channels designed just for kids or teens. We had to jumble through all the crap to find something cool. That's why MTV was such a big deal when it came on. Finally! Something for us!! Parents wanted nothing to do with it. Now, it's just another crappy reality channel.

What surprised me was a girl who just turned 30 saying "Yeah, it wasn't around for us, either" The two talking were 25 and 26. That means in 4 years, things changed so drastically it created a shortened generation gap

It appears that gap is only getting larger and more compressed, too. Consider this:

My boys are growing up with DirecTV, complete with 8, count 'em 8, children channels, not including PBS. 2 Nickelodeons, 3 Disney Channels, 3 cartoon channels. And Nick just launched a Teen Nick channel so they can brain wash my kids until they're legal.

They are the first generation that has always known cell phones and computers in the house. My six year old already knows how to get to and play games on the laptop. My 2 year old walks around with a play cell phone attached to his ear.

My son emails Santa his list every year. And he always gets a customized response! What the fuck? Does Santa really exist and I just stopped believing!!?? Does he have elves manning the huge, whirring mainframe that tracks the children, runs complex algorithms in .3 nanoseconds and subdivides and groups the good from the bad?

We bought a mini van last year and all my son wanted was a DVD player in it.

I can watch nearly any program I want on my computer. That includes out of market games for March Madness. The last two Marches, I've setup two laptops in front of my TV and watched the regional game on CBS, then two different out of market games on my laptop. It was fucking awesome and you can bet your ass I'm doing it again this year. Oh YEAH!!!!!

All new Subarus are coming with a navigation system STANDARD! Think about that for a minute, then consider the car your parents used to tote you around in. Hell, we didn't even grow up with seat belts, never mind car seats. I remember sleeping in the back of our van and waking up air born when my father had to slam the breaks on. I hit, rolled, got back up and went back to my seat.

You can setup a completely wireless network in your house, including cameras in the kid's rooms so you can see what they're doing. And you can monitor them from anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection. If you think I'm not setting this up in the next 5-7 years, you don't know what I was like as a kid.

I could go on (TIVO, iPods, cell phones with GPS so your ex-boyfriend can stalk you from his computer), but you get the point. Technology is advancing at such a rapid pace, it's getting impossible to keep up. Sadly, the more I age the more winded I'll get trying to do so. Instead I'll be talking about 'the good ole days' when you needed a cell phone to make calls and not that new fangled ear piercing that connects you to any and all available wireless networks and tells you which way to turn in the hallway.

Hopefully, it will download porn right to my central cortex.

Today's distraction: Check out the video game consoles from 1996. You can go all the way back to 1975 if you want, too. Back to Atari's Pong. I still remember playing Space Invaders at my friends house and being amazed. Then Intellivision, then RBI Baseball where you could have Whitey Ford throw the nastiest curve ball. And, believe it or not, you could play as Babe Ruth and hit a home run every time you made contact. Good times had by all.

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