The New York Times recently ran a piece about the increasing speed of generation gaps. Because life-changing gadgets have much speedier development cycles than they did when I grew up, sociologists think people in their twenties have become the new out-of-touch grownups. Apparently, someone 5 years my junior relies a lot less on email and a lot more on IMs than I do, and that makes me a prematurely-old curmudgeon. A Pew researcher quoted in the article explains that “[c]ollege students scratch their heads at what their high school siblings are doing, and they scratch their heads at their younger siblings. It has sped up generational differences.”
Fellow twenty-somethings, we have apparently passed our expiration date.
But wait! While I was sipping Ovaltine in my rocking chair and passing out some delicious Werther’s Originals, I happened on another article. The Philadephia Inquirer asked kids between 7 and 13 to predict what significant developments this new decade might bring. Great! Another chance to feel old! Surely these intrepid junior futurists would hold expectations far beyond anything my senile 26-year-old brain could make sense of. I pushed back my fears, put on my glasses-on-a-chain and started to read.
The article shocked me, but not because kids born in the ’90s are growing up as unfathomable cyborgs. On the contrary, my 7-year-old self would have made the same totally awesome predictions these kids did. The overwhelming concern for the well-being of animals, the robot monkey butlers, and the hope for an end to divorce are straight out of my childhood. Unrelatable? Hardly.
Sure, maybe the iGeneration will one day process my remains into fuel for their jetpacks, but we still get excited by the same fascinating stuff. I’d like to add my endorsement to this prediction by Marly, age 8: “Chefs may create new recipes, such as new flavors of pie.”
Some things are so timelessly cool that every effort to explain their appeal using grown-up language comes off as overly-academic and weird. You can try to translate that feeling in every kid’s gut into studies and essays, but they’re never going to be as exciting as dinosaurs and robots. Attempts to analyze the magic are dated before they’re ever finished, but pie will never lose its relevance. Just be cool, okay? I think you’ll find you still know how.
Welcome to the Pie Decade.