Old Geezers Out to Lunch

Old Geezers Out to Lunch
The Geezers Emeritus through history: The Mathematician™, Dr. Golf™, The Professor™, and Mercurious™

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Citizens of 4F, June 10, 2014

On the 4F bus this morning, I see an unusually large number of Pin-Twit Faces.

The hybrid buses that are now the norm in Minneapolis are configured so the back third of the vehicle is raised above the front, creating the space that houses the huge electric batteries for the bus. When you sit near the front of this rear platform, you can look down majestically on the front 2/3 of the bus and the passengers who sit there.

This morning, at least nine Pin-Twits sitting ahead of me spend the 35-minute bus ride with thumbs in frantic navigation on smart phones, checking their Pinterest, their Twitter, their Facebook feeds and who knows what else. Their free hands usually grip a Starbucks iced coffee, while the opposing thumb goes through frantic calisthenics that amaze me. Social media platforms seem to spring up daily, and I can no longer keep up with them. Our social media person in the marketing department at the office told me recently that Instagram and Google-plus are the coming rage....I have no idea what they are, really,  but the combined arsenal of all the social media platforms is certainly enough to occupy this group on the bus this morning.

I try not to be judgmental about this, but of course can't help myself. I'm now at that age where I sense that personal growth is more about emptying myself of irrelevant data and knowledge to make room for something more meaningful, and I can't help but wonder if in 20 years or so these 20- and-30 something adults might be in the same boat. Is the difference between these young adults and old geezers like me a cultural thing, an age thing, or merely a temperamental difference? Approaching 59 years of age, I'm aware that statistically I will likely be present for perhaps 25 or 35 more of these brief Minnesota springs, and I find myself paying very close attention to them. I can't imagine the appeal of burying myself never-ending Facebook feeds on a smart phone while spring passes me by outside.

But I'm aware that young adults are wired a little differently due to being raised with this technology. My daughter electronically multi-tasks like a bandit, and seems to be entirely well-adjusted and happy in life. She knows far more than I did at that age. And who am I to say that being connected to the entire world is somehow less valid than a narrower connection to the immediate environment? Years ago during one of the NASA missions, I realized that I could pull up a live image of the surface of Mars on my phone whenever I wanted. Certainly there is magic in being connected to the entire world whenever you want. Maybe it's just not my temperament to need or want this.

I have fair amount of digital savvy for an old geezer, but there's no way I could pull off what my daughter does, nor would I want to. There are moments when work pressures force me to be connected to email at all hours, and it's not a good thing for me. Clearly I am constructed to be happier when unconnected; I think this is more true for our generation than for this younger crowd, but perhaps even more for me individually.

Just below me, a young woman has a right thumb of Olympic talent. As I secretly glance over her shoulder, she goes through Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and several other media platforms, scrolling so fast that the screen is a blur.  Periodically she tries to shut the phone off, but after a few seconds is drawn back to it. At one point, I'm fascinated to see her scroll through at least 50 photos of the British princess. Outside the bus on Bryant Avenue, I see a front garden where a clever gardener has planted Siberian iris among the huge blue leaves of a hosta I recognize as Elegans, thereby creating what appears to be a new species. It is something I might try myself. To me, this is the real thing, but I'm quite sure if I pointed it out to the young woman, she'd see the Princess as a far more relevant thing.

Each to their own, I guess. But I can't help wondering what a 90-year old addicted to social media will look like. Years from now, I suppose our nursing home will be filled with oldsters with huge oversized tablets so that they can study images of a decrepit old Queen of England.


  1. I'm 10 years older than you and in the same boat. My oldest daughter, the oldest granddaughter and her husband, a microsoft engineer rarely even use their laptops, they do everything on the phones. The SIL can even change the TV channel with his phone and put images up on the screen. It's odd. Everything they read is on a kindle-like device.
    But I also remember 45 years ago driving across the US with my wife, she spent most of the drive with her nose in a map. I'd point out something like a mountain and she'd quickly give me the name. I wonder if it's all technology or something else.

  2. I would be more critical of those whippersnappers and their devices, but I'm reading this...which exists only on a device. I am, however, typing this comment with all 10 fingers rather than my thumbs. Does that matter? Jerri

  3. Today I watched a mother and her threeish year old toddler walking through town; little boy about three sidewalk cracks ahead and mom either scrolling or texting, nose down. Not only are those sidewalk cracks potentially lethal in my town, they were passing the most beautiful rock garden I know of, in full iris and lily splendor. Oh, well. I remind myself, they'll all be in this together when the next generation rules the world.

  4. I see it all as sad but then I think of all the time I spend on my old-fashioned desk top computer and am somewhat overcome with shame. But only somewhat.

  5. You have a good seat indeed and I'm glad you share the view.

    I'm beginning to think the depiction of humans in Wall-E may have been prophetic.

    The Iris and Elegan bed is an interesting mix. Sounds gorgeous.

  6. Here you go again with your fantastic and thought provoking posts! This is a really good one.

    I can tell you what this all means to me.
    We are watching the evolution of our species occur at breakneck speed. It's a run-away train that is changing how we live our lives, how we think and how we interact with each other. For crying out loud, even email is now considered "snail mail" now, because it is much too slow. Everybody wants instant gratification and the ability to make contact with nothing more than a text. At least when we all relied on regular phones we could simply ignore the ringing. First it was pagers, now it's texting. When somebody texts you, they know that almost everyone has their smart phone with them at all times. They actually get annoyed if you don't read and respond to their text (which is probably about nothing anyway), immediately. The technology gets better and smaller with every pre-planned release. Who knows where it is all headed. I sure don't.