Sunday, July 12, 2015

Rangers in a Time Machine

We were just kids in the 1960s. We were well into a new decade when we entered the big factory that was Lakewood High School. The school was busting at the seams with the decision to admit both freshmen and sophomores beginning in 1970. We felt that new decade was mostly dull in comparison to the tumult we came to know and love of the rebellious wonder years prior. That decade gave birth to considerable angst.

In the 1970s, the generation gap widened with the onset of anti-war sentiment. We wanted peace. The music of the Youngbloods singing “C;mon people now/Smile on your brother/Ev’rybody get together/Try to love one another right now” gave way to the sardonic Woodstock anthem by Country Joe and the Fish“What are we fightin for?/Don't ask me I don't give a damn, the next stop is Vietnam/Open up the pearly gates. Well there ain’t no time to wonder why ---.WHOPEE we're all gonna die.”

That bleak view of the future evolved nevertheless. Even though we weren’t fully aware of it we were at the nexus of larger counterculture generation. We had strength in numbers – Boomers, born between 1946-1964, ready to change the world. With time: The war ended. Nixon resigned. the Berlin Wall came down and the Cold War was a distant memory.

Blink -- dozens of channels to choose from on TV. Cable programming made media buyers scramble. It was nothing when compared to what was to come. Print media, notably the daily newspaper became obsolete.

Blink --  digital disruption, brought on by an onslaught of technology we never would have imagined. We saw the Kodak moment completely overtaken by social media. We saw the explosion of Blockbuster retail movie rentals replaced by a variety of online alternatives. We saw land lines, once an ubiquitous presence in every home, become unnecessary. The telephony monopoly that we busted up in the 1980s reemerged as an insidious essential utility with clean white AT&T retail spaces in strip malls and gallerias around the nation. Apple made Forrest Gump rich.  

Blink -- we like, tweet, pin, post and crowd-source everything. We connect with our classmates in ways that are ironically both genuine and artificial. We get and give a glimpse of our kids and their kids. It becomes crystal clear the future does not belong to our bloated generation.

Blink -- we are out of our element. We have to ask a twenty-something how to operate our intuitive smart phones. We have to go online to get almost any kind of service. We are forced to interface with tech specialists offshore or around the world to connect our internet router.

Meanwhile, marketing mavens blog about engaging and influencing conversations about anything and everything, all the while, never looking up to make eye contact.  It makes me happy to think about that time in the 1970s when we were High Schoolers with an opportunity to change everything. Now I can’t help thinking how much fun it would be if nothing changed at all. 

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