In honor of this week’s Gen X conversation, recent field trip to see The Internship and Father’s Day, it only makes sense to talk about my father -- the tech-savvy X’er whose social profile is nonexistent. Sorry Dad, but it’s the truth.
As a pediatric radiologist, Chief Medical Officer, Physician-in-Chief, husband, father, friend, and just overall normal human being living in the 21st century, my dad’s life is saturated with technology. He uses the highest resolution computers to read X-rays while he has his iPad out for quick research and his iPhone on standby to send whirlwinds of emails and texts. Using the ADT security app to control his home alarm has become part of his daily routine, and he’s constantly stealing glances at his surf tides app whenever he has the opportunity (as a Floridian, he leads a surfing lifestyle).
When he said his “life is overwhelmingly plugged into technology,” he wasn’t kidding.
But it hasn’t always been this way.
In 1995 my dad took his first radiology position at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. On his first day the boss offered him a (prehistoric) computer for his office, to which he responded, “I don’t know what I’d do with that,” and declined the offer. Wow. Clearly, my dad’s knowledge and use of technology has changed in the last 18 years, and fast.
That year he eventually took the computer, but it was nearly worthless. Microsoft Word and Powerpoint could not even be open at the same time because the computer didn’t have enough memory to support two windows running simultaneously. Yikes, compare that to the twelve apps I currently have open on my computer.
My dad’s experience between his first day on the job in 1995 to his daily life in 2013 is evidence that Generation X has witnessed a rapid and extreme technological evolution. From the creation of the first video game console and a pocket-size calculator to personal computers and the internet, X’ers have seen it all.
Their lives have been perpetually filled with developmental landmarks. The fact that they have witnessed such drastic changes plays a significant role in how they use these devices and why it’s different than Millennial usage.
It’s also part of the reason why my dad doesn’t have a Facebook -- or Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, or any other social media account. It’s the norm for Millennials to post their entire -- and I mean entire -- lives online, we’ve never known any different. However, this is relatively new to Gen X’ers, which is why many of them don’t partake in the social buzz of over sharing.
For a man who uses so much technology, my dad’s daily routine does not include hashtags, tweets, or selfies. He says he has no need for social media. None of his friends are socially active, so he has no one to connect to anyway. Unlike us Millennials who refresh Twitter from the moment we wake up to the second our eyes close at night and then dream about tweeting in between, my dad enjoys being able to unplug at the end of a long day.
Well, he likes to unplug, and he has a lot of privacy issues with Facebook. When I asked him to elaborate on his ill feelings, he lowered his voice and whispered, “I’m not sure I trust them, I don’t want people knowing all of my stuff.” Thanks for the explanation Dad, but you don’t have to whisper, Facebook can’t hear you.
Unlike Vince Vaughn in The Internship, my dad knows the difference between putting something ‘online’ and ‘on the line,’ he just chooses not to. His reluctance to social media does not stem from a personal contention, but is a result of his generation’s experience with technology and how they have become accustomed to using it. One generation is not more technologically advanced than the other, just technologically different. So Dad, thank you for your insight. Keep rocking your tech-filled, social media-free surfer lifestyle and Happy Father’s Day.
(My father was not offended in the writing of this blog post)
Author: Piper Donnelly is our Summer Editor, Word-Smith and Communications Connoisseur here at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.