The time has come to talk of many things, of shoes, of ships, of sealing wax, and the internet of things.
Well…that’s not exactly what the walrus said to the carpenter, and my apologies to Lewis Carroll, but that sort of conversation lives on in our modern life through those social media websites like AboutFaceBook, Twitter, and lord knows how many others in the internet hodgepodge.
It’s where you learn about all sorts of important information, from cabbages to kings and whatever else lies behind the looking glass, even that John Lennon was the walrus.
I once tried to document samples of what you can get distracted by in only one short sitting clicking links on the TMI rabbit hole.
You have your fun-fact lists such as Leave It To Beaver Secrets Revealed, The 24 Highest IQs In Hollywood, 12 Of The Rarest Medical Conditions, The Cast of Green Acres-Where Are They Now? and on and on. Important stuff, right?
I’m waiting to see one that says “Your Favorite Stooge Reveals Your Personality.”
Then you have your quizzes such as Which State Should You Live In?, Can You Answer this 1960s TV Trivia?, How Well Do You Remember the Beverly Hillbillies?, Which Beatles Album Cover Are You? and Who Sang It, The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?
Of course, the purpose of those lists and quizzes is to get you to click on the glut of advertisements that are plastered in the margins circling what you want to read. Also, have you noticed that you might be reading an article, and on the right side of the screen are links that have pictures of scantily clad models?
It can be down-right embarrassing to be looking at a list of something like The Most Death-Defying Roads In The US! and then your wife walks past and sees you looking at a page that has a picture of a girl in a bikini. It’s awkward at best, like when you’re talking with someone on the phone and they catch on that you’re using the bathroom at the same time.
Here I go again, revealing my naiveté. Every few days I can’t help but stop and ponder on how the internet has changed the way we experience the world. When I stop to think about how remarkable it is, I am also reminded that the people in my grandkids' age group - designated by the powers that be as Generation Z - take it as normal and expected.
You can go shopping at an imitation store somewhere out there in the ether and buy anything from soup to nuts, even if you live somewhere on the other side of the looking glass, delivered right to your door. I guess that old song about the Wells Fargo wagon coming down the street from The Music Man is still relevant, except now it would be the UPS or FedEx truck.
I know, I know, we’ve had this for a long time now, but I was ruminating about this stuff in 1994 when it was new and I first went online through a site called Prodigy on my Packard-Bell computer, and although I've been using the internet for nigh onto 26 years I’m still a little bit awed at what it has become. I mean, it’s all happened in a little over one generation.
But getting back to Generation Z'ers. They are those - like my grandkids - born between 1995 and 2015. Just the next generation onto which our slogan-oriented media has stuck a label.
This is how it works. The Z Generation was preceded by Millennials, who are now old enough to be grown up. Millennial was preceded by Generation Y, which was preceded by Generation X. Generation X followed the Baby Boomer, which followed what they called in the sixties the Silent Majority (they were the ones who grew up during the Great Depression). And the newest one I've heard is the G.I. Generation, the ones who fought in World War II. That's as far as the list goes - back to the turn of the previous century - so I guess the generation before 1900 were just called "people."
I'm reminded of my grandfather, who was born in that labelless generation. I guess you could call it the "Whatever Has To Get Done" generation. I mean, he was a carpenter, a farmer, a mechanic, and a blacksmith. Come to think of it, you could call him a Millennial, too, albeit a 100-years-ago version.
But I digress.
As we’re living in the most bizarre times I've ever seen, I'm thinking of Benjamin Franklin, who was born 315 years ago this Sunday: "I hope...that all mankind will at length…have reason and sense enough to settle their differences without cutting throats."
All things being equal, I'm ready to hand the future over to the Z people.