As a 26-year-old, I am part of the generation that had it kind of tough. We had computers in our elementary schools, but they weren’t hooked up to the Internet, and printed out on perforated Dot Matrix paper. We had the big movie complexes, but you had to look up times for shows in the local paper. We didn’t have DVR, but we did record some *NSYNC concert specials off the Disney Channel to watch over and over and over again.
The Milliennials, as we are often referred to by those who hate us, are a culture contained right on the edge of the dot com bubble. We remember the analog ways, but only as they can be seen in the rear-view mirror of our electric-powered vespas.
So, in honor of Thanksgiving this week, I’d like to spend this month being grateful for my top 5 most life-changing technological advancements. Get ready for some trips down memory lane, some references you won’t get if you’re under the age of 15, and some next-level worshiping of the humans that made them possible.
There was once a time in my life when my father thought it was necessary for me to learn how to read a key map. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept of a key map, it’s basically a map, with a gridded overlay containing square sections called “quadrants” like B5 or D4 – and then you can look up an address in the back and you do something with those numbers, and sometimes you have to turn the page, or jump back like 10 pages, and then Google Maps becomes a thing and the key map goes in your trunk. Then, in 2008, your car gets stolen, trashed and then recovered in the middle of the street in East Oakland, and everything is gone except for that stupid key map because even vandals don’t want to mess with that thing. That’s what a key map is.
Every day since I printed out my first set of driving directions from MapQuest, complete with full page map of the area surrounding my destination, I am thankful for the invention of Google Maps, and GPS in general. Turn-by-turn directions that automatically re-route when you inevitably miss that “slight right” because most of us grew up in a world of absolutes and cannot seem to fully embrace the “right-ish” mentality, have been my saving grace on almost a daily basis. Road trips are more fun, and less panic inducing. And I no longer have to “forget” my glasses in order to get out of being the navigator. As a Millennial who almost passed on the whole notion of learning to drive just because of poor map-reading skills, I am thankful for GPS.
2. Text Messaging
It’s no secret that my generation is a complicated one. We grew up on the movies made by our parents, enforcing the importance of a phone call, and yet, we hate talking on the phone. We are a generation that wants to cut the nonsense and get to the point. Phone calls these days are more of an event than a commonplace day-to-day activity, and you have the Millennials to thank for that. We ushered in the era of the text message, welcoming it with thumbs at the ready. We suffered through ABC-texting, raised our voices for the full keypad, and now you have an iPhone, complete with data-driven, messaging-rate free iMessage. You’re welcome, world.
I’m grateful for text messaging, because it helps me keep in touch. I couldn’t make the same number of phone calls as I have message threads in my inbox. I simply don’t have the time. As a young professional in a creative industry, I work long days, and come home exhausted and all-talked-out. But I can text. I can sit on the couch and multi-task. I can watch this week’s episode of Modern Family, and I can check in with my friends about how their days were. Or I can get answers to the single question I needed to ask without having to invest a half-hour in small talk. If I want to know how many tickets to get for the Mike Birbiglia show, I can group text, they can answer, and we can move on with our lives. Older generations will see this approach to communication as tactless and lazy, but the Millennials see it as efficient. I’m thankful for that.
And to their credit, those born before 1980 have embraced the texting lifestyle. My mother texts or e-mails me during the work-week, and I call her as often as I can. Mind the Generation-Gap, people. Call your parents.
Every Friday night when I was in middle school, I would elect to stay home, and watch TV. Because on Friday nights, ABC Channel 13 would host a series called “TGIF,” which included artistic masterpieces like “Boy Meets World,” “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” “Step-by-Step,” and the ever-lasting “Family Matters.” I literally spent every Friday night like that. Why? Because back in the golden years of happy-family television, if you missed an episode, you missed it for a long time. So I would stay home, and call my best friend on commercial breaks to discuss the plot twists of the groundbreaking “Full House” story lines. During one of those conversations, we discussed the impossibility of ever getting a job in the future, as it would surly interfere with our television schedule. By the end of that chat, we had all but completely resigned from the notion of gainful employment. It just wasn’t in the cards.
So I am grateful for the son-of-a-gun who heard our plea. Because by the time high school was in full swing for me, the world knew of this beautiful thing called the television season box set. Discs filled with an entire season of our favorite show, so we could miss an episode or two and catch up later. By the time I was in college, someone named Reed had created this Internet phenomenon called Netflix, and my future was secure. Last weekend, I watched the entire first two seasons of Breaking Bad on my xBox. It was wonderfully depressing, and I owe that to technology, and to my best friend Reed Hastings. Thanks, Reed.
4. The Blogosphere
Back in the day, independent writers or crafters had to put together these things called “zines” in order to get their work out to the masses. I read about those things on this DIY blog I follow.
And that’s what I love about the future. With the Internet bringing each corner of the world so much closer together, the little guys are becoming the mid-range to big-sized guys. Bloggers like Matthew Inman at The Oatmeal are getting book deals; The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, has a cooking show. Bloggers are writers and artists and creative geniuses, and because of the Internet and the growing credibility of the Blogosphere, they’re finally being heard. And it’s not only the creators of these blogs that are benefiting. Have you been on Pinterest lately? We’re reaping the benefits just as much as they are. DIY, life-hacks, creative solutions to issues we all have in our day to day lives – we’re all able to start solving our own problems.
I’m grateful for this. I’m grateful for the blogger who wrote about the best way to cut and cook a butternut squash, because I had never done it, and wanted to try. I’m grateful for the life-hack that showed me how to keep all of my charging cables from falling back behind my desk. I’m grateful for my own little corner of the Internet where I can share my own writing with whoever happens to google any of my searchable titles. (Looking for a monologue for someone who is grumpy? Grumpy Girl Monologues – BOOM. First hit on Google.)
I feel that this one can be best explained with one photo, and nothing further will be needed to make you all nod your head solemnly in agreement.
Thank you, Photoshop. Thank you so, so very much.
Happiest of Happy Thanksgivings, American Iggles.
(And for the rest of you beautiful, none manifest destiny-ers, have a wonderful week. Sometimes on Cinco de Mayo, Americans like to pretend they’re Mexican. You guys could do that on Thursday! Wrap yourself in some stars and stripes and make an excessive amount of food that you’ll share with NO ONE. )
Original post by Eleanor Thibeaux. She is a Post-production Audio Engineer, currently residing in Northern California. Every fourth Monday, she stops by International Geek Girls Pen Pal Club for a little bit of shop-talk, or an editorial diatribe. Every fourth Wednesday, she takes a nap break, instead of eating lunch. She feels this is all just part of keeping it balanced.