“When I was your age…”

As I reach the last semester of my senior year in college I have come to the realization that I am getting old. Next month I turn 22 and I will be expecting my AARP card in the mail. I know that to some people I probably sound like one of those obnoxious youths who gripe about getting wrinkles or freak out that they are already mid-way to their mid-twenties. But that’s not what I’m going for at all. I feel like my generation actually “ages” faster than the ones in the past. Just look at how much faster the world changes now!

I remember VHS and cassette tapes. I remember when you had to start dialing area codes for phone numbers (and believe me, my 9 year old self felt very overwhelmed by the addition of three whole numbers!). I remember when Sketcher’s were cool and I would kill for the chance to try to assemble the Shrine of the Silver Monkey on TV. I remember when cell phones were in black and white, could be used as a weapon if ever attacked, their value depended on whether or not they included the Snake game, and they belonged to your parents. I remember getting the Internet for the first time and I used to have the AOL dialtone memorized. I remember when “fat” was spelled with a “ph” and actually meant something (although to this day I cannot tell you what it was). When I was “young”, pen pals were totally boss, Instant Messaging was the only text message you could afford, and if you wanted to hang out with a friend you had to call their land line more than an hour in advance.

Man, have times changed. I do a lot of volunteer work with junior high students and they have proven to me that I am in fact old. While I did not get my own cell phone until I was 13 (and I had to share that brick with my sister), most of these kids had their own smart phones when they were in first or second grade–the word “smart phone” wasn’t even a thing when I was that age! At the age when I was running lemonade stands and making home movies, they were going to “parties” and drinking soy lattes at the mall. These kids grew up on the Internet and text messaging and HDTV and 3-D movies. They care about brand names and celebrities and gadets that I have never heard of and, by the time I did my research, the next best thing would already be on their minds.

What ever happened to bikes and rollerblades? What about Monopoly and The Game of Life? Can kids these days even comprehend the horror of having your VCR “eat” your favorite Disney musical? Will the new generation ever know the frustration of never knowing where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? Will they ever know the satisfaction of successfully reconfiguring the html code on their Xangas? And what about overalls? Now I don’t mean the ridiculous phonies that they are selling in high-fashion retailers. I’m talking good, old-fashioned, way-too-baggy, androgenous overalls. You just don’t see laize faire fashion in the middle-school market these days.

I look back at my two decades of living and compare my childhood with the ones in process today and they look drastically different. Yes, we all go through the same awkward stages and the same adolescent milstones–we will all learn to ride a bike and drive a car and go to school dances and get our feelings hurt by childish gossip–but the kids these days are truly something else.

Maybe that’s the tiny old lady living inside me talking or maybe it’s the musings of someone reaching a pre-quarterlife crisis, but I feel like I have next to nothing in common with these young whippersnappers. I guess I’ll just have to wait and watch this “new” generation develop and maybe they’ll surprise me. Until then, if you need me, I’ll be at the local Luby’s playing with my Tamagochi and spilling jello down my overalls.

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