I was driving in the car with my wife and son recently, and I had the opportunity to partake in one of my favorite pastimes: Telling my kids about a world they will never know.
We were talking about an article I read that said young folks these days don’t gather socially, at least not in physical locations, as often as they used to.
Kids today, with their new-fangled technologies that connect them instantly.
My wife and I began regaling our son – which he no doubt was super appreciative of – of a time when we were young, carefree 20-somethings, without the burdens of children but also without the conveniences of smart phones.
For a good chunk of our early professional lives, my wife and I would join friends at a local watering hole after work several times a week to play bar trivia over cocktails. Even though I am a bit older now and seldom play anymore, I am aware that bar trivia is still a thing. But I would bet that few groups had as consistent run of attendance that our crew did for a good four or five years. Also, for those of you still playing trivia, please remember one of the cardinal rules of playing it: Even if you are just drinking water, you have to tip as if you are drinking beer and getting food. You are renting time and space from a server, so drop a fiver at the very least at the end of the evening.
At that point, my wife decided to go super “Kids today!” and said, “And there’s not destination television anymore! And what about Saturday morning cartoons!?!?!”
Let’s unpack these one by one.
My kids watch most of their TV on their phones or computers. And they do it whenever. Our daughter, who is 17, watched the entirety of “Friends” in a couple of weeks, a feat she accomplished by ignoring such pesky things as cleaning her room or sleeping.
Well, when “Friends” was airing live, we used to watch with a group of our friends, and we had to do it 30 minutes a time, every Thursday at 8. And it took us 10 years to knock that bad boy out. (We also did the same thing with “Melrose Place,” but I’m not going to recommend that show to her. Or admit that I watched every episode religiously. No one can prove I watched “90210,” either.)
As for Saturday morning cartoons, kids today, with their cartoons whenever. My wife and I were sharing with our son about how our Saturday mornings were the one day when we could see cartoons (with the exception of holiday prime time specials). We had about a three-hour block on Saturday mornings, and we liked it! Harumph.
I then took the helm and went on to share with him about how awesome Blockbuster Tuesday new releases were. “Independence Day” coming out and you’ve got a watch party scheduled? You better get to Blockbuster bright and early and make sure you get one of the 12 copies they were going to have available. If for some reason you couldn’t get there that early, you could hope and pray that some kind movie watcher had rented that morning and returned it the same day. I remember several times heading into my local Blockbuster, eyeing a new release in the return bin at the counter, and hovering like a vulture until I could catch the eye of the clerk and saying excitedly, “Can I get that copy of ‘There’s Something About Mary’ that just got returned!?!?!” That was my on-demand, my friend. (Oh, and fingers crossed that the person returning it had in, fact, had the decency to be kind and rewind.)
So the world is different now, and maybe that has led to a bit of a fracture in the traditional social structure. I’m not one to suggest the old ways are better or worse. Just different. Now, if you’ll excuse, my show starts in 10 minutes, and if I don’t see it now, I’ll have to wait until summer reruns.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.