Thursday, December 06, 2018

Intergenerational Cyberia

Traditional societies, such as commuter cultures in big cities, put children in the care of people other than parents, as the latter need to go foraging for berries, or pick fruit in the fields.

Professional caregivers, such as teachers, may pick up the slack, but then you have grandparents also.  Those who have become more frail and perhaps scattered, perhaps not, stay behind in the camps and share skills with the next generation to assume a parental role.

This pattern repeats in Cyberia, where retired people finally get the time to reflect on their lives, including the history they lived through.  Many boomers today are consuming hours of conspiracy theory documentaries, trying to make sense of what happened.  Who else has that kind of time?  The grandchildren, momentarily spared the need to earn a living, retired young people.

I'm not saying there's anything particularly wrong with this pattern in principle.  You want the wise elders, who've seen it all, who've raised kids, held a job, to pass on what they know to the younger ones.  Mom and dad need a break to get out there and forage, to commute, to spend time on freeways listening to radio.  A different caste of adults gets to work with the younger people.

Of course this pattern I'm sketching grossly oversimplifies.  Some folks in that middle generation, young parents for example, do work with little kids for a living.  A lot of job descriptions involve kids as a target audience, even if you don't interact with them personally on a daily basis.  Getting the toy stores properly stocked and decorated is kid-oriented work.

However, the fact remains, that many don't get the time to reflect on history much, even at the university, if lucky enough to attend.  Depending on one's area of focus, the demands on one's time may be such that no academic credit accrues in exchange for spending time studying the custody of the Zapruder film (to take the highlighted example).