Help Wanted may become the sign of the summer 2021
Communication is the core goal of journalism — in fact the two terms, communication and journalism, are so intwined that they are often uttered interchangeably in the academic and professional worlds.
So, I have to say that it is incredibly troubling that when it comes to my personal life, I am woefully falling behind the times. In roughly 20 years, I have gone from a hip, young user of the latest communication technology to … well, that dad whose kids have to explain to him what TikTok is — spoiler alert, it's not a fancy new brand of clock.
Toward the end of my high school days and the start of my college years, the world was introduced to a few cutting-edge innovations. We were gifted with the World Wide Web, email and online chatting – and I was young, hip and tech savvy, taking full advantage of these new-fangled ways to communicate with peers and the outside world.
And as a young and unintentionally arrogant 20-something, I quietly felt superior to those older folks who just didn't understand the whole email thing or how to "log on" to the "web" or what the point of "chatting" on computers is when you could just "chat" face to face.
For a while, I did a pretty good job of keeping up with the times. When blogs first arrived on the cyber-scene, I knew they were small online journals … not small piles of a gelatinous substance. And when MySpace became a thing, I wasted little time in getting a MySpace page — and then abandoned it when Facebook was suddenly all the rage.
But a funny thing happened around the time my kids were born — I started to get *gasp* out of touch. I didn't really notice it much at first. I indulged in YouTube videos, and I was at least aware of what Twitter entailed. I knew that a "tweet" was more than the sound the little birdy makes outside your window.
But then other social media options joined the fray. Along came Instagram and Pinterest … then SnapChat and TikTok. Thanks to a Google search (yep, I do know what Google is), I found out there are at least a dozen more platforms out there. It's enough to make your head spin. Who could possibly need so many ways to communicate with people — wow, how out of touch did I just sound?
Then again, as I watch my kids — one of which is 14 and the other 11 — and the way they "communicate" on their electronic devices, I think I'm probably better off keeping my cyber-sphere to emails and Facebook. A typical evening looks something like this — both kids are involved in a speaker-phone conversation with a friend who lives literally one house away. As these conversations unfold, they are playing some sort of online game together. Meanwhile … they are checking out videos on YouTube — videos where a person is narrating their experiences while playing a different video game. Sometimes, my kids will do all of this while sitting right beside each other.
Call me old-fashioned, but back in my day (where have I heard that phrase before?), us kids used to call each other on our phones, go over to each other's houses and actually play the video games — not watch a video so someone else can describe what it's like to play that game. Kids today, I can't figure them out (ugh, when did I start thinking like this?).
So here I am, growing more and more out of touch in a communication world that is racing past me, while youngsters under my own roof take pity on my cluelessness. It's a bitter pill to swallow. And I have to wonder what that cocky, 20-something version of myself would think if he could see me now — and what new-fangled internet platform he would use to tell everyone about it.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.