Generation Gap

I’ve been watching the “So You Think You Can Dance” contest on television whenever I can and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.  They are down to the last four contestants now and there have been no gimmics in the show.

No nasty judges, no smarmy hosts, no “twists” or other bulldust just talent on display.  I haven’t liked a lot of the dance music or even the dance routines but I have been mesmerized by the sheer talent shining out of my screen episode after episode.

Actually, I take that back, there was one episode where they had a stupid Mary somebody from America who was a “personality” huffing and puffing herself up trying to take the limelight.

I rolled my eyes and suffered through her but she was gone the next week thank God!

This contest has kept the contestants personalities, and the judges personalities too, out of the spotlight most of the time and stayed focussed on the dancing.

The final four are just brilliant and a real pleasure to watch as are the routines being choreographed for them to perform.  They seem to have also pared down the choreographers to a final few very talented ones – also a pleasure to see.

Their version of the “nasty” judge is one who lets us know he is very knowledgeable about dancing by educating us when he hands out a criticism rather than just saying it in a snotty “hate me if you like because I don’t care since you don’t know anything” way.

He is also not afraid to educate us about how hard some of the things the contestants are doing are for untrained people to do.

As for the host – I just hope they get her to host more of their shows.  She has been lovely to look at but also lovely to listen to and such a nice person.  She hasn’t been afraid to show support for the contestants either.  Genuine support too not the fake stuff all the other hosts I have seen hand out.

The other day I discovered I’m not terribly up with public opinion though when I cruised through the unofficial Big Brother site’s forum to see what was happening there.

They hate the show and only watched it because they heard the first ad for BB08 was going to air during So You Think You Can Dance.  I saw them condemn SYTYCD, as they called it, for being boring and a waste of time.  I was horrified to discover they can’t recognise quality even when they are forced to view it.

It looks like we are going to end up with two huge, but extremely incompatible, markets in society.  I don’t know how they are going to be able to cater to us both.

In one corner you have the aging population and there are a lot of us.  The well known “Baby Boomer” generation has dictated change all through their lives.  They have done so simply by being too big a market to ignore.  I’m not one of them but I am just behind them.

In the other corner is the smaller, but growing, young generation who are the future.  As we oldies die off they will become the key target of marketing efforts.

The gap between generations has never been so big in the history of mankind I don’t think.

My generation has taken a lot in our stride.

I remember visiting my grandmother and being surprised to hear she did not like her new telephone.  She found the lack of an operator unnerving and the whole device was far too complicated for her so she never made calls and even hesitated to answer them!

Telephones and television were the main new household inventions in her day.  I was born the same time as television so I grew up with those items and took them, more or less, for granted.

I took the advent of colour televison, vcr’s and microwave ovens in my stride.  I have learned to use answering machines, photocopiers, fax machines, CD’s and even, fairly recently I must admit, DVD’s thanks to my children buying me a DVD player.

Computers were a bit hard for me to get my head around but I did it, as you can see, and can’t imagine not having a computer or a printer now.  I even, thanks to limited space on my computer desk, put aside my mistrust and bought an LCD computer monitor last time I upgraded my computer.

I resisted the mobile phone craze for many years believing it would be a nuisance to be “on call” 24 hours a day.  I’m still not all that keen on the way people are able to access me via my mobile no matter where I am or what I am doing but circumstances forced me to get one and I am used to it now.  I mostly use it to send sms’s to my children.

I’ve embraced digital cameras but can’t get my head around a phone that takes photo’s let alone one that plays music or accesses the internet.

It is at this point that technological advancement begins to leave me behind.  I don’t want a camera phone let alone one that does all those other things.

My son just got a new mobile phone and my daughter grabbed it to play with all the various features and functions soon as he put it down.  Now she wants one.  I think I understand how my grandmother felt all those years ago.  It’s too much.  I have learned to use enough new gadgets over the years – I do not want to learn how to use this too.

My mobile is a bit of an ancient artifact despite the fact I have only had it about four years.  It has no camera, no fancy ringtones and no internet.  I can use it because my daughter gave me patient lessons when I first got it and repeated the lessons as often as was required until I got the hang of it.

I suspect my kids are going to force a modern mobile phone on me some day the same way they forced a DVD player on me – as a gift.  They know I won’t waste or get rid of a gift.  I’ve learned how to use the DVD player and, occasionally, I actually do use it too.

Technology is, however, the way of the future.  It always has been I suppose.

I saw a show recently where they were saying research shows young people would prefer to give up TV and computers than their mobile phones.  I can see why, in theory, they would feel that way.  If your mobile phone supplies TV shows, performs computer functions, plays your favourite music and lets you access the internet all in one compact item you can take with you wherever you go why would you opt for less?

It will never play the same role in my life because I like to be able to SEE my TV and computer screens and I struggle to see well on a big screen with my glasses on!  A mobile phone screen is too small.  I could never get much, if any, enjoyment from a TV show or a computer game on such a tiny screen.  I would miss most of the details.

So I watch my television programmes, when they interest me, on the television and I even watch the ads because I am not as quick as my kids to flick channels.  I do it but only when the ad annoys me or I am looking for something else to watch.

It is for this reason I have noticed alcohol making a comeback on television advertising.  I thought advertising alcohol was illegal but there are ads for wine and, lately, beer ads being shown too.

They look like sneaky “test the water” ads.  They don’t actually SAY anything to encourage people to drink.  They don’t even show anyone drinking they just show the bottles.  Is there a loophole in the law that allows these ads?  Has the law changed to permit their comeback?  Or are there just so few people watching television now that nobody is complaining?

I’m not going to complain.  I’m too jaded and battle-weary.  Is it the same for all the other viewers?  Is television now just an old person, and preschooler, entertainment unit watched only by people who can’t, or won’t, try to do anything about what they see?

That can’t be true.  All those people on the internet are waiting with great impatience for the new season of Big Brother to appear on television.  They plan to watch if the show is good enough.

They also, I guess, wouldn’t see anything wrong with being shown ads for alcohol.  If, in fact, they see them.  My kids never sit through the ads if they can avoid it.  They channel hop during the ads every time.

I guess that is the big difference between my generation and theirs when you think about it.

Patience.  I am used to having to wait for what I want.  There were no remote controls when I was growing up.  I couldn’t watch a show I wanted to see or listen to music I wanted to hear until I got somewhere that had a television, radio or my record player.  If I wanted to talk to someone on the phone I had to wait for them to get home and answer it.  I couldn’t even leave a message and wait for them to call me.

I have the patience to sit through a dance routine and take notice of the movements.  I can enjoy the display of talent.  I don’t need inflated “personalities”, gimmics or “twists” to make a show interesting.

Quite the contrary – I loathe it when such things take the focus off what I have tuned in to watch.  I have watched Big Brother but been driven to despair by the manipulations that got in the way of me seeing real people being their real selves.

The people on the unofficial Big Brother site forums don’t want to see real people being their real selves.  They want a handful of eye candy to perve on and lust after, they want a handful of people who will behave in ways that entertain them, they want a human zoo experience.

For them it is not about the people who go into the house – it is about them – the viewers.  They don’t care about the finer points they want to be entertained and they don’t care what has to be done to achieve that.

They are like spoilt children at the zoo.  If the monkeys are just sitting there grooming each other they want someone to feed them, torment them, poke or prod or throw something at them.  They don’t care what as long as the monkeys move.

“Make them DO something Mummy!  This is boring!”

So it is with the Big Brother house.  They tune in and see the human monkeys grooming each other and they complain to the shows producers.

“Make them DO something Big Brother!  This is boring!”

The dancers on So You Think You Can Dance performed movements that held me spellbound with amazement.  I seriously did not realise the human body was capable of some of those things yet these people on the forum were complaining that it was boring!

How is it possible for them to think that?

Hmmm.  Could it be because they are the new generation?  Could it be because they have grown up in a world where things move faster than the speed of light?

A world where your state of the art, latest model mobile phone is an ancient, out of date, clunker in just a few short months.  A world where, if you blink, you will miss vital incoming information and be left behind.

Never in the history of man has technology moved at such speed.  A brand new invention can be obsolete within months and the children who have grown up with this rapid pace have had to be able to keep up with it.

Perhaps their brains have been affected by this and they are wired to absorb information faster than me.  If they are wired to absorb at lightning speed then they would also experience boredom faster.

I get bored too but it takes a while because it takes a while for me to absorb all there is to see and know about things.  There are still functions on my old mobile phone that I have not yet gotten used to.  I haven’t needed to so I haven’t bothered to.

My children, on the other hand, are excited and keen to possess and learn each new development as soon as they hear about it.  Only the price keeps them from having each new thing the moment it is on the market.

That was never the case for me.  I always had to be persuaded to adopt new inventions.  I didn’t want a microwave oven because of rumours about harmful emissions.  I didn’t want a computer because of fears about losing data.  I didn’t want a mobile phone because I didn’t want people to be able to pester me.

I don’t want all the latest in technology.  I don’t like the pace of learning it involves.  I get annoyed by fast moving things just like I get annoyed by gimmics and twists and “personalities” that get in the way of me absorbing the fundamentals of a show.

If I am a reasonably typical example of my generation then the gulf between what I find entertaining and what the new generation wants is only going to get wider.

They will absorb and process each new offering and be bored by it whilst I am still being annoyed by the way it interferes with me enjoying the original, basic, offering.

I’m still getting the hang of music on DVD’s – don’t annoy me with demands I learn to get my music from a mobile phone!

I come from a generation that had YEARS to learn to operate each new invention.  We had years to get used to them and make them a part of our daily lives.  The new generation doesn’t have that luxury.  They have a matter of months.  If they don’t get used to it and make it a part of their lives fast they will miss out and be forced to scrap it before they get their moneys worth to learn the latest thing instead.

I wonder if it’s time for psychologists to redefine the definition of ADD.  Attention Deficit Disorder was defined years ago and it may well be that the newest generation has had to develop a certain number of the symptoms in order to function acceptably in todays fast moving world.

As for me – I will continue to move at my own pace.  I’m old enough to simply not care if I miss out on something.  Life has been quite OK without mobile phones that give me TV and internet for the past 50 years.  I’m pretty sure I will do OK without them for the next 50 too if I live that long.  If my kids don’t force one of them on me for my birthday or something that is.

The only snag with that attitude is the knowledge that every new thing I have embraced has become something I wouldn’t want to give up now I’m used to having it.

Part of me wants to claim superiority.  I have the patience to enjoy a show like SYTYCD and those poor youngsters don’t know what they have missed out on.

Another part of me suspects they didn’t miss out on it at all.

I wouldn’t be surprised to learn they saw those moves, experienced that pleasure, had the enjoyment of such dance routines on You Tube or some such new fangled place that I rarely ever go to ages ago.

I wonder if it was not because they are too brainless to appreciate the talent that they were bored but because they have seen it all a million times before?

The o8 season of Big Brother is currently being advertised and the first inmate in the human zoo is a 52 year old granny.  She has already stirred up strong debate in the forums and I was interested at first.

Since then I have found out she may be old in numbers but she is just another inflated “personality”.  She is nothing like me.  She is just a hippie who has never left her youth.  She hasn’t learned much in her years from the look of it and I doubt she will last long in the house anyway.

The youngsters are already being savagely crude and lewd about her “bat wings and mudflaps” and the last thing I am interested in is seeing someone my own age try to be a match for the youth of today.

You can’t put an apple in with a bunch of oranges.  The apple will just get bruised and look more and more unappealing as time goes by and so it is with human beings.  Age has mercy – youth does not and the merciless will defeat the merciful every time until we get to heaven!

What I would like to see is TWO Big Brother seasons – one for them and one for me.  I want a house filled with people like me.  I want to see how THEY cope with sagging body bits, disintegrating teeth, grey hair and deteriorating eyesight.

I want to eavesdrop on THEIR life experiences and views about the world.  I am old but no human being is ever too old to want to be reassured they are “normal”.

Give me some attractive older men who are capable of talking about something other than themselves and who no longer try to rule the world.

I’m not dead but I have no interest in perving on the empty headed boy toys.  What’s the use of having equipment when you don’t know how to use it?  Those boys might look good but they bore me to tears and I wouldn’t be able to tolerate them for an hour let alone a whole night!  Not to mention, of course, they wouldn’t want me.

(For the record, I have bat wings but I do NOT have mud flaps if those are what I think they are and the idea of those children even thinking about sex with a granny disgusts me no end!)

Give me a 40 or 50 or 60 year old man with a couple of muscles, a bit of interest in taking care of himself and a BRAIN and I will fight tooth and nail to stop him being voted out.

Put him in the house with a bunch of 20 year old girls and I don’t care.  He wouldn’t fancy me anyway so why should I fancy him.  If he is showing interest in a 40 or 50 or 60 year old woman, on the other hand, my interest will be heightened.  If he fancies HER, and I know I am better looking than HER, he might like me too.

I don’t vote on any of those reality shows for one main reason.  I don’t really care who wins.  I simply cannot relate to any of them on any deep level.

Put my dream man in the house, or a woman who reminds me of me, and I would think twice about leaving them to the merciless votes of the youngsters.  Provided, of course, they were not making fools of themselves trying to be oranges instead of apples.

That is what the market is now – apples and oranges.  What appeals to one will annoy, bore, irritate the other.  They need to target both with two very different types of show.  Give us oldies the happy endings, the “nice” people, the “nice” shows and give young people the sex, violence, lack of morality and other rubbish they seem to thrive on.

I’m sure there are many older people who like that stuff but I am not alone in wanting “nicer” stuff on telly.

The people I speak to on the help lines are often unable to take their minds off their suicidal thoughts, their problems or their loneliness by watching telly because of the same problems I have with it.

One 80 year old digger couldn’t watch tv late at night because the sex line ads disgusted him too much.  Most of the victims of sexual assault can’t watch because the sex scenes trigger flash-backs to their ordeals and so on.

The interesting thing is that maybe the shows we oldies would watch would actually capture some of the young market if they started giving us what we want.

A couple of youngsters on the aforementioned forum were hoping the addition of the granny to this seasons BB would get their mothers to start watching BB again.

Children do like to do things with their parents.  They would most likely watch a BB season geared towards their parents and might even get hooked thanks to the increased family interactions it would stimulate.

I suspect the only way to slow this generation down is to give them a reason.  Quality time with their parents might be good enough to do it.

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