The Sandwich Generation and Fear of Change

Yesterday was my wedding anniversary.  I know this because it is eight years from the date I got married, but, just in case I forgot, Facebook told me with a notification on my newsfeed and a series of pictures reminding me what my husband looks like.   It made me chuckle at this most basic of reminders.   Something is amiss if you need a computer programme to remind you of your own wedding anniversary.   Now, don’t get me wrong, I do quite enjoy being on the social networks.  I like scrolling through people’s cat pictures and funny memes, and it is handy sometimes being reminded of a birthday.  But sometimes I have an internal conflict with myself about my reliance on social media, as if there is a part of me trying to resist being modern and wanting to hark back to times gone by.

Let’s rewind for a moment, shall we?  The year is 1992, it’s Christmas and I’m an eleven-year-old girl, listening to my Take That & Party CD and eating fudge.    The only computer in the house is a huge thing with a giant screen (the back, not the front) and keys that take a while to come back up.   Computer games are pretty basic and with no real prize at the end other than the gratification of completing them.  I organise my life, as much as one can for such a young age, with a diary for my thoughts, an address book and a birthday book.   I read lots of stories and I watch Home and Away and Neighbours every day.   Awesome.  Now let’s think how different things are now.  Take That are still around, but obviously not as the band of choice for youngsters.   Technology is everywhere and there is no denying it is amazing.  Everybody has a mobile phone and our young people are leading the way when it comes to being fluent in using all that technology has to offer.   I heard some catch-phrase this week, I forget where, which said if you want to get ahead in technology, you should ask a 12-year-old.    So, we are only 24 years on but things are so, so different.

I’ve been reading a lot recently about just how different things are for Millennials than they were for Generation Xers and the Baby Boomers.  Just today there were reports about how people born in the 1980s are the first generation not to earn more in their first jobs than the generation before us.  Coupled with difficulties in getting on and staying on the housing ladder, after being brought up in a time when we believed it was our right to own a house, it feels a bit like we are a sandwich generation.   We’re between a time gone by and a time not yet in its stride.   We experienced the early days of modern technology.  We grew up with TV sets in every house but not quite every room and they certainly were not mobile.  Our household telephones were attached to their handsets by windy cords and a mobile phone often meant just having a longer cord.  We learnt what a ‘mouse’ was at school when the teachers taught us, whilst still probably learning themselves, how to use computers.  And we consumed our gossip and news by buying weekly magazines complete with fold-out posters to cover our walls, song lyrics, and tips on finding a boyfriend/girlfriend.

So, what happens to our generation when we’re in this no-mans land?  We remember all of these lovely and nostalgic things, and, most likely, we show our age more and more by sometimes resisting technology and new developments or, worse, by liking them so much that they lose their appeal to younger folk.

Perhaps we are at a junction in our time where things are shifting dramatically and, rather than staying on the course we were on over decades, that model can no longer hold and it is the Millennials who will feel this change the most.   I know there is no ‘solution’ to this and nor should there be, I suppose, but every once in a while I want to be free to indulge in my nostalgia and go all wistful and doe-eyed at the olden days, before I log back on and make sure to check my timeline for the next reminder of how long I’ve been friends with my sister.

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