As I sat down to drink my morning coffe, I opened the New York Times app on my iPad. I glanced at Top News as always, and then hit what has become my favorite section--Most Emailed stories. I like to keep the pulse of what the hot topics are without resorting to The View for my information.
David Pogue wrote something that I found incredibly disturbing called Internet Memes101: A Guide to Online Wackiness. David goes on to explain in exhaustive detail--(if you have to explain a joke it isn't funny anymore) all the pop culture references that those of us from a different generation have apparently been missing out on while trying to follow the late-night monolgues.
News flash David. If I don't get the reference about the latest Kardashian foible, I'm actually glad. If I don't realize the latest catchphrase has been generated by the monotoned Paris Hilton I consider it a win in the column for those of us who think hotel chain first, media hussy second.
Maybe, just maybe, it's time for our youth to try to understand what we're saying rather than the other way around. When I was in school and attended a lecture and the professor used a word I had never heard before, I wrote it down so I could check it later. In an actual dictionary. I made the effort. And yes, that's how nerdy I was.
I was speaking to a co-worker and she was recounting a story of her neighbor who is a grown man listening unquestioningly to whatever directives his father issued.
"But that last piece of advice you told me about was so poor. Didn't he say anything to his father?" I asked.
"No, his father is European."
I'll let that statement just hang out there.
Tina Fey speaks glowingly about her father in her hysterically insightful book Bossypants. The chapter That's Don Fey says it all. He was a man who commanded respect. You stood up straighter when he entered a room--I used to say the same thing about my grandfather.
My husband is of the generation that remembers when a parent was allowed to say to a child, "Because I said so."
I'm not advocating going back to those times because I think open communication is the key ingredient to any successful relationship, as is mutual respect. And self-respect is the first step to respecting others. I'm just saying.
So yes, an online primer to the catchphrases of the moment is an amusing page-filler. But the underlying message is disconcerting. Why do I care to learn the language of a generation that doesn't know how to fold the New York Times in its original form. Yes. The newspaper is actually available in paper format.
Let's demand more from others, not less.