Sunday, October 11, 2015

Event Horizon

One of the things about social media is that is broadens the range of people that one can easily interact with. Through my Google+ account, I can communicate with people all over the world. But it also allows me to communicate very freely with people of differing age cohorts than myself. And that, to a degree has spurred in me a feeling of being old.

Not in the sense that there are a million things that "the kids these days" are into that don't do it for me. Or, to quote Abe Simpson, that they changed what "it" was. But in the sense that I find myself dealing with people who are too young to understand the world that I exist in because the events and social structures that shaped it are literally before their time.

I can, for instance, describe to my niece the world that she lives in. Now, I'm not going to hit all of the finer points, and I'm likely to be way off if I have to describe how she interacts with that would via her inner perception of it, but the world that she lives in is one that I was there to watch form around her. I might not readily be able to grok how she goes about selecting what she's going to put on her YouTube channel, but I get YouTube, because I was there to watch it evolve. My niece, on the other hand, for all that she's a fairly bright kid, had difficulty describing the world that I live in. Because she simply wasn't there to see most of the factors that shaped it, and therefore, can only have second-hand knowledge of them. The best that she can do is understand the changes to the world that have happened in her own time, and extrapolate backwards. Where that extrapolation intersects with events that she may have heard of, it gives her an ability to relate - but outside of that, she had nothing concrete to go on.

For a number of people that I interact with on social media, events in my life are on the other side of an event horizon, just as they are for my niece. And that gives them a view of my world that is unrecognizable to me, yet perfectly consistent and self-evident to them.

It's a strange feeling to realize that formative events in your life are effectively inside a black hole for an increasing number of the world around you. I hadn't realized that this is what aging felt like.

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