In 1987, I was a teenager attending a popular right of passage in Florida for high school seniors: Grad Night @ Disney World. Magic Kingdom was closed to general visitors for the evening and high school seniors from all over Florida bought tickets to attend a concert in the park event. Several popular bands were contracted and stages were set up throughout the park for live concerts. My favorite band, Glass Tiger, was playing in Frontierland. It was a long walk and I didn't want to miss them, so I took the train. Little did I know, the train was not supposed to stop in Frontierland, but it did and I got off the train.
The band was using the train station as a back stage area. I had unintentionally found myself face to face with the one band I had come to see. They saw me and I saw them and they waited for the inevitable screaming that comes along with rabid fans finding their way into backstage areas without an escort. It did not come.
I begged their pardon and simply said, "I believe I am lost.." They laughed. I smiled and they invited me to sit down. So, for the rest of the evening, I hung out with a group of guys that were looking for five minutes of normal as they coped with fame far from home. They asked me about school and my family. What I did for fun? How far were we from the beach? What was I going to do after I graduated? We just talked.
At the end of the evening, as I said goodbye; they asked me if I had a camera. I did not, but I told them that it didn't matter and that I had a good time hanging out with them. They told me I had tickets anytime they played in Florida and I only had to give my name to their manager. For an awkward moment, I invited them to go to the beach if they could carve out time on a future visit.
No cell phone, no camera. Not even a pen for an autograph. I spent an evening with an Eighties Pop Band and I do not have evidence of the event. It is still one of the best memories I have from high school and it is a story relegated to my memory only.
We lived to show the difference between us and our parents. They left us alone, the latchkey kids to make money, make futures...to buy houses and cars, to provide us with the stuff that they felt we deserved. Our parents, who lived through the sixties, Vietnam, the adoption of the color television into the modern family living rooms. And half the time, we didn't remember to take pictures, to document because the camera was broke, we forgot to buy film, we lost the film, it was never developed, etc.
Can You See Me Now? Under 40 or When I Noticed the Difference
Fast forward,...I am in my 40's with six grown children and a Verizon account with 11 devices. (I wish I were joking.) "Unlimited data" is a musical phrase to my ears. My children are the documenting generation. The cell phone has made our family experiences easier. We have photos of every family event from multiple perspectives and angles, posted on every social media platform that we enjoy. I never worry about ordering pictures from special events, my children take better pictures anyway. My daughter, with an eye for graphic design, can turn a few photos into a social media event. If I want an album, I can order one from any of our social media feeds complete with comments to relive the experience in print but they don't care about photo albums. They can view it on their tiny screens.
Sometimes, we don't recognize what is important for the young because we view them through the lens of our own experience. A few years ago, my husband and I went to the movies to see "Rock of Ages", a movie starring Tom Cruise about the music of the eighties, our generation. The theater was filled with people of all ages to see the movie.
We sat dead center of the theater. The lights dimmed, and a rock-n-roll downbeat reverberated through the theater. We were front row center at a concert. Instantly, we were on our feet with hands in the air, howling at the sounds of our past, reliving a moment in time. As I realized what we had done, I looked around to find others in the same position, eyes filled with nostalgia and longing for a different time. We were not joined by the "under 40". In fact, they were doing what their generation does in a moment of perceived glory. They had cell phones up and were taking pictures of us, in our experience. Whether they were sharing our behavior as a moment of foolishness on social media, I did not care, because in that moment, I was living.
That movie had reduced the images and sounds, and angst, of my youth into 2 hours and 20 minutes complete with big hair and denim and all the cliches' of the era. I had "felt the noise" and the "under 40" were talking pictures to post on social media of my experience.
A New Way to Live
What We Say and Do on Social Media Affects our Mentorship
The divide begins in how we view the purpose of social media. My generation largely views social media as just that, a social experience where we share our thoughts, interests, and prejudices with abandon as if we are sitting in the comfort of our living rooms among family and friends. We let it all hang out, warts and all, because we are focused on living in the moment.
Meanwhile, "under 40" stares at our feeds in abject horror as we overshare our thoughts and opinions without regard to how we are branding ourselves on the daily. With our posts, we become the archetypes of literature...the hero, the activist, the boor, the jackass, the whiner, the soccer mom, the bigot, the sociopath, the saint,... We offend with our honesty and in that, we lose our ability to use social media for the opportunity it presents to us. If we were to see the perspective of "under 40", social media could be a point to make meaning and connect with them, to bridge the divide. We should be making the most of our opportunities... why aren't we?
Advice on a New Way to Live on Social Media from Some Old Guys
1. Either write something worth reading about or do something worth writing about--Ben Franklin
Live with purpose,
2. The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.--James Madison
Let the facts speak for themselves, but we should all be allowed to speak our truth, so learn how to listen.
3. It is better to be alone than in bad company.--George Washington
We don't count our experiences in the number of friends we have, but in the quality of the friends we have.
4. Ethos, Pathos, Logos.--Aristotle
Know, Feel, Do. Learn the facts, share your feelings, and then, do something about it.
If you are on social media, and you are not learning, not laughing, not being inspired or not networking, then you are using it wrong. Hint--social media is a platform--Germany Kent