When my parents were teenagers, they hung out at drive-ins. My generation hung out in malls (I am 47). And at arcades and roller skating rinks, which were many times located in malls. Kids today hang out online (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). With their heads buried in their phones, are they really any less social than we were? I think it is just a different form of interaction. If anything, they are much more connected with each other. That is what social networks do. The next generation will probably hang out together in virtual reality, bringing online socializing to a whole new level.
My parents saw a movie actor (Ronald Reagan) become president. I watched in amusement as The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and a professional wrestler (Jesse Ventura) were elected as governors, and I stood proud as a black man won the presidential election. “Change” was coming, although nobody at the time expected it would be a real-estate-mogul-turned-reality-star trying to become the leader of this nation.
For decades, 1-800 numbers ruled the marketing world. Every TV commercial had one. So did catalogs, billboards, and newspaper ads. Then along came 877 and 866 numbers, and the public got very confused. Then it no longer mattered, because businesses started using websites. Short, catchy .com domain names were king. Sometimes you could use a .net or .org, but the public would get confused. Then everybody started looking at websites on their phone, and URLs became less important. Facebook accounts and Twitter hashtags were where the action was. Now, there are over 1,000 new domain extensions (.travel, .money, .biz, .club, etc.), and .com no longer matters as much. The public is confused as usual, but nobody really cares because in seconds you can always find what you are looking for in Google.
TV led to VCRs, then up popped video rental stores, which led to Netflix/DVR/on-demand. At the end of the day, though, it is still just the same TV shows and movies we are watching. Pagers, fax machines, and landlines were all eclipsed by email, mobile devices, and instant messaging. But what we are communicating is the same, it is just through different mediums.
Our grandparents feared communists and built bomb shelters. As a kid, I worried about the Doomsday Clock as it ticked slowly towards global nuclear destruction. Today Al Qaeda and ISIS fill our hearts with terror. We stare out the window of life as the world evolves, and a new generation thinks everything will be different this time. I evolve, but still make many of the same old mistakes. It is almost certain that my kids will think they know best, not listen to me, and make their own mistakes. That is how it has been since the dawn of time. Everything changes, but it also stays the same.