Monday, April 28, 2014

Guess Who's Back?


 
It’s been 16 months since I gave this thing up.  I started a big, new important job and couldn’t afford the public exposure.  Well, I was recently fired from that big, important job so it seemed like an appropriate time to finally break my silence.  A lot has happened in the past year plus.  The Chargers won a playoff game, Obamacare failed (surprise, surprise), I celebrated my 40th birthday, and oh yeah, I got fired.  It had nothing to do with my performance (I actually had one of the best earnings years of my entire career).  There was simply a regime change and I wasn’t aligned with the right camp.  I now know firsthand that dirty politics are alive and well in corporate America.  It’s all good.  I’m like that post-apocalyptic cockroach basking in the sun amongst the rubble.  I’ll survive and move forward, better for the experience, and look forward to the next chapter of my career elsewhere.  Onward and upward, one door closes and another opens, right?  But more importantly than any of that stuff, you’re reading this post which means the Quinsey Blog is once again alive and well.  In this go-round the frequency of my posts will be reduced significantly (once a month will be the goal) and my tone will have changed a bit (I’m older and wiser now that I’m in my forties).  I’m also going to work on being less mean and offensive (at the request of my lovely wife – happy 16th anniversary honey).  But rest assured you’ll still get my unfiltered (and invariably inappropriate) views on a wide range of topics.  Welcome to the first post of the Quinsey Blog, version 2.0:

The Greatest Generation to the Laziest Generation

My kids are always asking me a bunch of questions I don’t know the answers to (my state school education rearing its ugly head).  My standard response has become, “Google that shit” (go ahead and hand me the father of the year trophy now).  30 seconds and a quick web search later they always have the answers to their questions, and usually a bunch of other useful information as well.  The other day after once again muttering my catchphrase response, it hit me.  The reason our children’s generation seems so damn lazy is because they are.  But it’s not their fault really.  Advances in technology have made being lazy a perfectly acceptable practice.  In the new world order of social & mobile, lazy works. 

Think about it.  When we were kids there was no internet.  If we needed to do research on something we went to the library and used the Dewey Decimal System (remember that shit?) to locate books on the topic.  We then checked out a huge stack of literature, lugged it all home, and went to work.  If your parents were rich you probably had a set of Encyclopedia Britanicas which saved you a trip to the public library.  At my house we had only the “A” edition.  Some dude was selling them door to door, and there was a promotion where you could buy the “A” edition at a deeply discounted price.  The hook was that you’d find your first encyclopedia so useful, you’d order the rest of the alphabet at full price.  But the joke was on the Britanica people as my parents had no intention of ordering any other editions, and from that point forward I wrote term papers (I’m not sure they even call them that anymore) on topics starting strictly with the letter “A” (to this day I can recite a comprehensive list of little known facts about the aardvark).  For the current generation of kids, research is literally just a couple clicks away.  If you need to write a term paper (or whatever they’re calling them now) you simply hit an easy button called the internet.  Where’s the learning curve in that process?

There were also no cell phones when we were kids.  If you wanted to communicate with someone you had to dial them up on a landline or gulp, a payphone (if you’re under the age of 20 and want to know what a payphone looks like take a trip to your local museum).  You usually had to talk to their parents first and explain who you were and why you were calling (I know, so embarrassing).  When kids today want to communicate with someone they simply type the word “Hey” into their smart phone and hit send (welcome to the death of chivalry).  What ensues is a broken “conversation” full of partial words and ambiguous acronyms (am I the only one who finds acronyms just plain lazy?).  The written word is an art form that our children’s generation will never fully appreciate.  I’m sure the “classics” are still part of their academic curriculum but with all the information so readily available on the internet, why would they even bother reading them?  I would next talk about e-mail and how it didn’t exist when we were kids either (we actually had to write a thing called letters – visit the national archives in Washington DC for examples), but texting is so much easier than e-mail why would our kids even trouble with it?

And of course there was no social networking when we were kids.  In the old days it took real effort to keep in touch with people.  Now a days you can go for months or even years without any form of communication, and still know exactly what’s going on in someone’s life (albeit a sanitized, egotistical version of it).  At what point did meaningful human contact give way to self-promoting Instagram posts and gratuitous selfies?  For those who prefer no human contact at all, today’s generation of introverts can choose the virtual reality of gaming.  It’s no coincidence it is now a multi-billion dollar industry.  When we were kids all we had was Atari or ColecoVision (think VHS versus Beta), and it was pretty tough to get lost in games like Pacman and Donkey Kong.  Although I do have to admit I can still play Galaga for hours (trying unsuccessfully to beat my wife’s high score – she’s got a gift J).  In the virtual reality created by today’s video games, why would our kids ever feel the need to take a break for the real thing?

The point is today’s generation of children have so much technology at their disposal (the internet, cell phones, social networks, video games, etc.) that it’s become too easy to get completely immersed in it.  New applications for iOS and Android are literally being developed faster than people are being born.  Some technology is indeed a blessing in the convenience and flexibility it brings to our personal lives, and the productivity gains it delivers to our professional lives.  But where do we draw the line when too much technology becomes a curse?  And how do we prevent our children from becoming complacent and lazy as a result of it?   

The term "The Greatest Generation" originated from Tom Brokaw's 1998 book of the same name.  It refers to the generation who overcame the Great Depression and went on to fight in and win World War II.  The productivity of those who stayed back on the home front also made a decisive contribution to the war effort abroad.  In the book, Brokaw wrote, "it is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced."  He argued that these men and women fought not for fame and recognition, but because it was the "right thing to do."  The term “Laziest Generation” originates from this blog post written by me today.  It refers to the generation of kids currently being raised buy us 30 & 40-somethings.  It’s most notable contributions to society include LOL, angry birds, selfies, and the participation trophy. 

Only time will tell if the Laziest Generation can overcome the crutch they’ve been provided in the form of “progress”.  The one thing I do know for sure is that if my kids turn out lazy it will definitely be my fault.  For every time they do something stupid my wife says, “They got that from you” (and my clearly flawed DNA).  Welcome to the shallow end of the gene pool.  It feels good to be back.