Brave New (Writing) World: Not Just for Kids

Change is the only thing constant in our lives. That was true even in times that seemed more slow-paced than ours, but today we’re confronted with it on a daily basis. Not only are there new technological gadgets every week, but those devices are changing the very foundations of how we live and work.

I suspect most of us find all that change stressful, even when it’s not directly threatening our jobs or our way of life. Most of us like our routines. And during this period where the new is vying with the old, it sometimes seems impossible to develop a reasonable routine.

I struggle with the changes myself; it’s hard to find the right balance. There’s one thing I’m sure of, though: This brave new world is not just for the next generation.

Current conventional wisdom says that young people are the only ones who really get technology. (One article I saw recently speculated that even people in their 20s are behind the curve when it comes to tech, because they haven’t been using it since birth.) This kind of thinking leads to two common responses:

  • People over 30 [40, 50, 60 …] are over the hill and need to cede all that tech stuff to the younger generation.
  • All that tech stuff is stupid and just for kids; I’m happy with my print books, my television, my CD player.

Both those positions drive me crazy. Sure, younger people have grown up with cell phones and iPods — they take them as a given. But that doesn’t mean they’re the only people who can use them to full value.

Young people often come up with new ways of using something. They don’t have as much invested in the old way, and are more likely to take risks.

Older folks are more likely to wonder if this new device really improves anything. They bring experience and perspective to the mix.

Both of these things are important. If people don’t take risks, don’t experiment, we won’t move forward. But if we don’t look at the changes we’re making in the light of history and experience, we may take that step too far and walk off the side of the cliff.

Or, as I wrote in the story “Thirty-One Rules for Fulfilling Your Destiny“:

Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.


Nancy Jane’s novella, Changeling, is now being serialized on Book View Cafe. You can start at Chapter 1 here; a new chapter will be posted every Sunday. An e-book edition of the whole book will soon be available for a modest price.

You can still find 51 flash fictions and a few other stories on Nancy Jane’s Bookshelf, and anthologies containing some of her stories are available through Powell’s.

A reminder: I’m particpating in the Clarion West Write-a-thon fundraising event. You can sponsor me here. I’m posting updates on my Facebook wall.



Brave New (Writing) World: Not Just for Kids — 3 Comments

  1. Older people are likely to find different uses for new tech than younger ones (just to use a cliched example, if there is a new way to swamp the world with grandbaby pictures. it will be used that way. My friend watched her five year old granddaughter’s birthday party on YouTube, since she couldn’t travel out of town for it). I still wish I could have suck–er, encouraged my grandmother to use a computer; once she discovered the main Baptist web page and a never-ending source of crossword puzzles, they would have had to drag her away from it .

    Being able to increase the font size on various sites is a True Blessing (also, if my dad had lived long enough, he would have adored using a Kindle with Really Big Print).

  2. Re: new uses for technology. My daughter (43) in California and I (67) in Estonia watched the Obama election results together using SKYPE. She had the news feed from MSNBC and others and my computer had The BBC and Deutsche Welle. We were as linked as if we were in the same room but in fact were almost 5000 miles apart.