I was lucky enough to have known both my great grandmother (who died at 93) and my grandmother (still alive at age 89) very well. I only just missed knowing my great great grandmother, a full-blooded American Indian who was so old as to have no official documentation of her own birth, by a few years. Here’s some perspective I’ve gained from observing the generations of my family interacting:
My great, great grand mother grew up in a home without electricity, and eschewed modern technology until her dying day. Her idea of a “night in” was a rocker in front of a fire. My great grandmother loved listening to church sermons and gospel on the radio. She thought “record music” was the devil’s instrument.
My grandmother grew up listening to Elvis, in defiance of her conservative upbringing, but to this day, she bemoans the horrors of television. She thinks that television is what’s wrong with the world. My mother and aunt roll their eyes at this, having heard the same tired rant since the days when Howdy Doody and Zorro were the only programming on television. However, both my mother and my aunt have always held a hard-line censorship policy towards violent video games, and every time a mass shooting makes national news, the topic of video games is raised at the dinner table not long after.
My brother and I, of course, find this utterly ridiculous, but to my everlasting horror, during a conversation with my brother this past Christmas, I found myself vowing that I will never be the kind of father who lets his kids run loose on social networks. We both went quiet when it slipped out, struck by the implications of what I’d said. After an awkward laugh, though, we both agreed that social networks are what’s wrong with the world today.
The moral here is that people consider new technologies to be a threat to their way of life. Video games and the internet and just the latest in a long line of inventions dating back to the Luddite’s socking frames that have been considered a moral outrage. And they won’t be the last in that line. Expect new technologies to raise controversy.