Digital native. A reporter used the term in her article in the November issue of our local community magazine.The story was about raising a family in the digital age, and while reading two things grew increasingly clear: A digital native I’m not, and parenting has changed from the the olden days when our kids were little.
The article made me think about how my Grandma Josie, who lived from 1896-1996, felt during the technological revolution that radically changed her daily life. In her 99 years, she witnessed the advent and widespread use of
tractors and other engine-driven farm machinery,
black and white television,
automatic washers and dryers,
electric sewing machines, irons, and small kitchen appliances,
electric and gas cook stoves,
She saw the first man go into space, watched several astronauts walk on the moon, and was still alive when personal computers and cell phones first entered the market. For decades, I had wondered how the constant changes made her feel. I marveled at how she adapted to change after change, how she welcomed and embraced many of them.
Reading the article about toddlers using iPads, teens programming their Direct TV connection to update them about Fantasy Football, and entire families dependent upon laptops and smart phones, I finally understood why Grandma eventually quit trying to change. At some point in last few decades of her life the gap between her life as an agrarian native and the lives of the technological natives around her grew too great. She couldn’t keep up anymore. She had to quit.
The gap between this 1950s technology native and the digital natives now entering the world is widening, too. It’s not yet a distance too wide to be traversed, but it is wide enough to increase my admiration and compassion for how beautifully and how long Grandma Josie adapted to change.
One day, I realized, the gap could grow so wide I’ll dig in my heels and refuse to change. Then again, maybe that won’t happen. I may not be a digital native, but I can apply for citizenship and study to become one.
A digital version of the test, of course.
Downloaded on my iPad.
Exported to my lap top.
Backed up on my external hard drive.
With an audio version on my iPod.
The gap is shrinking.
Watch out digi natives, here I come!
image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net