Back in the 1970s when “The Information Age” came about and we’d have to learn new lingo to incorporate into our vocabulary, the mid-20th century became characterised as the Computer Age, the Digital Age and The New Media Age. Within a short time, the era of Breaking News, cell phones and instant live on-the-spot reporting from around the world inundated and surrounded us with up-to-date/in-the-moment coverage of thrilling and unpleasant events that filled our hearts and minds with information. The world rapidly made a monumental shift from the traditional Industrial Revolution to the Technological Revolution.
As Baby Boomers, we grew up with television being the newest, most exciting invention ever. Our parents could get the local, daily news every night while TV served as the main source for political information. We could watch Band Stand, cartoons and all the latest and funniest sitcoms. TV was publicised to represent the purest and best of America. Remember I Love Lucy when the word “pregnant” wasn’t permitted by the networks? Remember when 1950s moms vacuumed the house in dresses and high heels? Boy, have we come a long way, baby!
Today, anything goes! We are witness to authenticity, realism, blatant language and deeds with memorable images that impact our brains forever. But in the name of technology, this is considered progress.
I’m not implying that we should go back to the 50s, not at all. Nor am I implying that we should cover our kids and grandkids eyes and ears. Because we live in the realm of instant reality coming from cell phones and TV, I do believe our children and grandchildren have a clearer view of the world than we did at their age: A wider scope of the good, bad and the ugly.
The bad news is that some folks have exploited what they see in the here and now to promote their agendas. Many of us get highly frustrated with those who do not see both sides of issues nor are informed enough to make good, objective decisions, which has created divisions amongst us. All of this immediate information affects us daily via a device that is received with a tiny sound that alerts us that new news is at our fingertips, with just a swipe, while our nervous systems get ready to launch a reaction.
In spite of the advanced 21st century we live in, I strongly believe young people need to be taught views and opinions from all sides so they have enough information to decide issues for themselves. As elders, we can approach dialogue with them, let them contrast our experiences with theirs. Information is power, and hopefully, kids are taught to use power with thought and caution, for the good of all and not just a few. I honestly believe that we Baby Boomers can be change agents to and for the younger generation.
My 18-year-old granddaughter, who graduated high school recently, engaged in a conversation with her 16 year-old-sister at the dinner table. The younger one was sharing a discussion in her Ethnic Studies class regarding Israelis and Palestinians living in Israel and how she thought the teacher was being Pro-Palestinian. The 18 year-old had the same teacher several years before but because of Covid, the remainder of the class and that subject did not transfer to on-line learning. As religiously educated teens who have been to Israel, my granddaughters believed the teacher didn’t have all the information to objectively talk about who are Jews and who are Israelis. She implied that all Israelis are Jews. They knew this is not true.
My older granddaughter became angry about the teacher’s lack of accurate information. She is fully invested in her Judaism. She is a past regional president of NFTY (the youth movement of Reform Judaism in America) and Social Action is her major with Jewish Studies as one of her minors at mid-western university in the Fall. And last week, she won an award for being one of the three top students in her Social Studies class.
With tenacity, chutzpah and respect, she graciously texted the teacher sharing her concern that not enough information about who is an Israeli and who is a Jew was adequately represented to the class. She explained that to fairly give information about the delicate subject, the history and problems from both sides should be presented.
Too all of our surprise, the teacher responded the very next morning:
I am aware of who you are as I remember you from my class and realise your sister is in my class, plus, your Social Studies teacher has mentioned you several times. I would be happy to sit and have a conversation with you.
My two granddaughters met with the Ethnic Studies teacher and shared with me they were happy that he admitted the information they provided him was helpful and that he wasn’t fully aware of all the historical facts. He stated he appreciated that they came forward and that he will do more research to make his presentation equal for both sides.
I don’t know too many Baby Boomers, back in the day, who would have confronted a teacher! Kudos to my granddaughter for not just kvetching but for standing up and taking action. I believe she will be a change-maker during her college experience!
Let’s give ourselves permission to be loud and clear, strong and verbal, angry and furious at all that we cannot change and refuse to accept.