Recently, I realized that I am no longer relevant. This was not something that I thought would happen to me at the tender age of 35, but I don’t really get a say in the matter. It is also possible that I wouldn’t have realized this for another decade had I not had children at a very young age. Or perhaps if I were less liberal with my computer usage policies in our home. Regardless, the epiphany occurred, and it was mind blowing.
A little background data for those of you who haven’t listened to The Skiffy and Fanty Show podcast – I am the occasionally proud, more commonly flabbergasted, parent of two girls. My daughters are 11 and 12 years of age, and they are both in 7th grade at a local public Junior High School. You’ll learn more about that at some point in these “Adventures in SF Parenting” posts. Suffice it to say, if you bothered to do the math, I had my kids when I was fairly young. I was 22 when my older daughter, Mo, was born, my husband was only 18. That probably gave us an entirely different viewpoint on parenting than folks who wisely decided to wait a few more years before popping out offspring. I have always considered it a privileged position to be in — for instance, I’ll only be 41 when they leave for college (I hope). I have also always considered it an advantage that I am not so very far apart in age from them and therefore have easier access and understanding of their cultural norms.
At least, that’s what I thought until about two weeks ago.
Two weeks ago, I got home from work and sat down with them to watch TV. Pretty normal, right? Except, and this is the thing that really hit home that day, THEY DON’T WATCH TV!
(Technically, none of us do, as we cancelled cable television six months ago (seriously, why didn’t I do that years ago?). But I still consider Netflix “television” as the vast majority of the series content is still firmly rooted in the TV marketplace. Please excuse my absurdly long digression.)
Instead, my daughters watch, as you may have perceived from the title of this post, YouTube. Frankly, I find YouTube a bit perplexing. For a period of time I was watching The Flog by Felicia Day and TableTop by Wil Wheaton. When Geek and Sundry became a full on channel with about twenty different shows, they lost me. It was too much! I primarily use YouTube for occasional cat videos, movie trailers, and marathon sessions of amazing human feats with good soundtracks (but only when Shaun Duke drags me into it). Why? Because in my world, that’s really all YouTube is!
But for my children, YouTube IS television. It is their source for all things pop cultural, whether it be news, cool gadgets, or totally random people playing Minecraft. And it is a source that I am not comfortable with — not from a parenting standpoint, but from a generational standpoint. I’m sure that there are plenty of people my age or older that use YouTube frequently, but I doubt there are many that use it with the absolute ease and seamless integration into daily life that my children and their friends do. Where we have blogs, they’ve got vlogs, and they are far more “with” the voyeuristic/exhibitionist cross-stream that is modern life.
Which leads me back to that epiphany I had about my relevance. As I sat watching TableTalk, I realized that THESE are the market forces that media companies are starting, or will soon begin, to capitalize on. You can see it in the original programming that Netflix has to offer and the way that YouTube stars are getting recruited for film and traditional television. Hell! TableTalk is a show on the SourceFed Nerd Channel, which is owned by DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS! HOLY MEDIA MIND BLOW, BATMAN!
Parenting as a Geek/Nerd is an absolutely amazing thing. But one of the absolute coolest aspects is watching them navigate through THEIR world using the gadget and gizmos that were completely Science Fictional when I was their age. I hate to throw the “back in my day” phrase around too much, but every year, every DAY, something new weaves its way into their life that I have no connection to. And I can’t help, at least occasionally, start waxing poetic about back when the internet was lightning fast at 14.4kps and video games were 8-bit (which is cool again, btw. #seriouslywtf #shootmenow #getoffmylawn).