I just spent a hour with my “riding on the coattails of the Millennials” son. (He is our mid-life crisis.) For over an hour, he taught me about twitter. And I can honestly say that after an hour, I learned … well, I learned … actually, I’m not sure what I learned. Okay, I did learn that if you click on the little blue circle with the plus sign in the middle, you can post a tweet. That’s if you can find the little blue circle with the plus sign in the middle. It’s not on every page you go to in twitter.
All I know is that after that hour, I felt like I had traveled to a foreign country and listened to someone speak in a language I didn’t know, and looked at people conversing in that language and felt like I was literally from another planet. Seriously. When I stood up, I felt a little woozy. I didn’t know what day it was, or what I was supposed to be doing that day. I almost fell over. I’m not even sure I knew my name for the first few minutes looking around the room. I felt completely disoriented.
No wonder people over 60 are frustrated by Millennials. This is not just a few skills they know that someone like me doesn’t. They speak another language. Suddenly, I’m wishing for the gift of tongues. That I somehow could suddenly speak twitter.
I was lost. Chandler was trying to get me to understand twitter, but he was speaking twitter to help me understand twitter. That doesn’t work. If someone’s going to teach you a new language, they need to know your language too. How can you learn Spanish from someone who only knows Spanish. They have to know (in my case) some English too, or they won’t be able to explain anything to me.
Thus we have the disconnect of the generations. He’s been speaking his language for 20 years. I’ve been speaking mine for 70. We speak our own languages and think we understand, but like ships passing in the night, our words miss each other.
This is going to take time. It’s going to take a lot of listening and a lot of learning. But just think what we can learn from each other.
Since Chandler lives on the internet, speaks internet and most of his relationships are on the internet, his generation never needed the voice of someone older and wiser, they just google it. That’s where I can give him something he doesn’t have — a real relationship, not as a father, but as someone who cares about his level of anxiety and loneliness. There is the give and take of a real relationship over something in common — like music. Like most of the Millennials, he loves the Jesus Music of the movement, but I connect with a lot of his musical tastes in current artists. And if I can hang in there while he teaches me to tweet, maybe we’ll have something. At any rate, he said when it came to the Millennials, he’d have my back. And sure enough … he does.