By Patricia L. Fitzgerald, Editor 2017-03-28 22:20:47
Facing Some Generational Despair IT IS AN OCCASION BURNED IN MY MEMORY. Like Don McLean recounting the “day the music died,” I can remember exactly when I realized I was no longer “cool.” Now, before I go further, I hasten to point out that by “cool,” I mean the kind of cool that could be attained by a word nerd member of the high school drama club, etc. (Plus, there’s that whole uncool hairstyle thing I wrote about in the December 2016 issue.) When I refer to my long-lost cool status, I mean the cool, plugged-in, pop culture-conversant “Aunt Patty” that my god-kids raved about to their friends. I subscribe to Entertainment Weekly. Even if I don’t care to listen to Kanye or Snoop Dog or Pitbull, I know who they are. I can fake my way through conversations about video games or graphic novels. (Note: not “comic books.” See? Totally cool!) And then, I was listening to the radio and the deejay talked about something being “on fleek.” Huh? What? I had no idea what he was talking about. Was this a good thing? A bad thing? There was no contextual clue. I asked my peers—did they know the definition of this mysterious term? Nope. I broke down and texted my goddaughter. (Texted! See? Still some semblance of cool.) It was like asking her to define “blue” or “salty”—it was a term that was so ubiquitous to her, she didn’t know what to tell me. (For the record, the Urban Dictionary defines it as “smooth, nice, sweet.”) It was a watershed moment of aging—the first of many more to come. Talk about a comeuppance! I had great confidence that I would always be able to transcend generations. I would never be someone who couldn’t manage the buttons of the cable remote (#fail), work every app on my smartphone with ease (#fail) or set up my new laptop (#fail). My only solace? I’m still better at most of these things than my peers. (#smallconsolation) My generational despair only flares up when I’m with my god-kids or niece and nephew, so I pity those of you who work with kids every single day. It must be awfully intimidating. And yet, I envy you, too. Because I think that if I was more immersed in Generation Z, learning about and from them, I would be a lot cooler.
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