Generation Gap

I rented ‘This is 40’ on our Apple TV the other night. My husband had left on a business trip, so it was a good opportunity to see some comedy vs. our normal action & adventure fare. When it comes to movies, it takes a lot to make me laugh out loud (being more the silent chuckler type), but this one had me cracking up in quite a few spots. One of my favorite scenes – I even pulled our teen sons to the TV room to watch it – went something like this:

Scene: Family of four – parents plus two daughters (one 8 and the other 13 or 14) – are getting ready to eat dinner. They are sitting at a table outside in their backyard. Surroundings are lovely; sun is shining and birds are singing. In front of the family are many plates full of food – green vegetables, tofu, and similarly healthy fare.

Conversation goes like this:

Mom: Your dad and I are going to make some changes around here so that we can be happier and healthier, and we’re starting with this meal that I prepared…(continues on, how good it all looks, how dressing just gets in the way of how plain lettuce tastes, how tasty tofu is, and other comments intended to persuade the kids to jump on the herbivore wagon)…
Mom: …And another thing we’ve decided is to cut back on all of the electronics we use. Basically what we’re going to do is get rid of the WIFI and only use the computer –
Daughter: What?!
Mom: – – from 8-8:30 at night.
Daughter: How are we going to go on the computer?!
Mom: We’re going to have a hard line in the kitchen.
Dad: Yeah, we’ll supervise that.
Daughter: You can’t do this! You can’t take away the WIFI!
Mom: You don’t spend enough time with the family when you’re constantly on your iPhone and your computer and, you know, you should …
(Discussion veers to the daughter needing to spend more time with little sister and how they have built-in best friends, a topic not met with enthusiasm by either girl.)
Dad: You’re on the computer too much as it is. You need to get outside more. Do some playing outside.
Mom: Yeah, you can build things. You can build, uh, a fort outside.
Daughter: What?!
Mom: Yeah, build a fort. Play with your friends.
Daughter: Make a fort outside?! And do what?! Do what in the fort?!
Mom: When I was a kid we used to build tree houses and play with sticks.
Daughter: Nobody plays with sticks!
Dad: You and Charlotte (younger sister) can have a lemonade stand.
Mom: You can play kick the can…
Dad: Look for dead bodies…
Mom: It’s fun. That’s fun to do.
Dad: Get a tire and just take a stick and run down the street with it.
Daughter: Nobody does that crap in 2012!
Mom: You don’t need technology…

And things spiraled downward from there.

Does this scene sound strangely familiar?

(Although I swear I never once mentioned anything about playing with sticks or finding dead bodies.)

Even though I laughed hysterically over the idea of selling forts and sticks and a WIFI-less home to our kids, I too well recognized the ongoing, less hilarious ‘discussions’ with them to better balance their time between digital entertainment /online socializing and outside play / face-to-face social interactions.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to ring center tonight. You will have the pleasure of watching parents and offspring battle it out over choices of recreational pursuits. In one corner we present the parents and their choice of playing outdoors, involving  light, fresh air, and the movement of all body parts. In the other corner, we have the offspring and their choice of technological pursuits, involving mimicking the life of a mushroom in a dark cave, where only small movements of one’s dominant hand is required.”

(Do I sound biased?)

Watching the movie, the generation gap between US and THEM became even more obvious. I wondered perhaps if our generation gap is more gaping than any others before us? I am sure each generation feels that theirs is the Tower of Babel modern equivalent; however, technology has so transformed the meaning of social interaction and entertainment, human communication has been significantly redefined.

Perhaps when our kids become older and technologically-savvy parents to technologically-savvy kids, then the gap will narrow.

In the meantime, for a parent from the create-your-own-entertainment-because-we-only-get-two-channels-(snowy)-on-the-TV-and-there’s-nothing-to-do era and a child from the click-it-and-ye-shall-have-it-all generation, finding a compromise for down-time activities that everyone is enthusiastic about can be, in a word?


Work cited:
This Is 40. Dir. Judd Apatow. Perfs. Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow, and Iris Apatow. Apple TV. Universal Pictures, 2012.

2 thoughts on “Generation Gap

  1. You are so good at writing!!

    The text brings back the memory of Sebastian “telling on me” when Christian came home from work. Seb angrily announced that I had been mean to him!!

    I was quite suprised, and Christian asked Seb what I had done. The answer was:

    “She TURNED OFF the TV!!!” *angry little face*

    And that indeed I had done – apparently in a very bad moment in his watching 😀

    The poor guy expected some support from his father. None arrived… 🙂

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