Keeping up with Gen Z

Written by Amanda Coop

Is there anything that says “middle aged” more than being excited about bin day? The first recycling-bin day after Christmas is greeted with nearly as much anticipation as Christmas Day itself, amirite? (I don’t know if middle-aged people are supposed to use expressions such as amirite or if that just makes us look like try-hards. Do people still say try-hard?)

What about enjoying a really good piece of fruit cake, or knowing every word to every song played at the supermarket and singing along while your kids just look at you like you’re the most embarrassing creature to have ever lived?

I have recently realised I’m reaching that awkward point where my kids know more than me about certain things; technology, the latest music, popular culture and what’s “in”.

Now, frankly, the music side of things I’m happy to stay away from. I’m sure there are some current artists out there releasing great stuff, but my kids certainly aren’t listening to it. I’ve always been somewhat amazed at a lot of what finds its way into popular culture, so there’s not too many changes on that front, but technology … knowing how to use that could actually prove, dare I say, useful?

My tech skills have always been somewhat basic, evidenced by the fact that I had to get Mr 6 to conjure up Siri for me on my iPad a few nights ago. I can never remember if you hold the button in while you say “Hey, Siri,” or release it. Anyway, he thought my level of ineptitude was hilariously funny until I reminded him that I was the one who taught him to use other fairly basic technology, such as the toilet and spoons. It was then Miss 10’s turn to have a laugh, which naturally resulted in an argument between them.

The kids often make jokes about what a luddite I am (although I’m the one who told them what luddite means – who’s the smarty-pants now?) but I wonder if they’ll still be laughing in 30 years’ time when they have to stop at my place on their way to work to show me how to start my own dishwasher.

I realise getting older doesn’t automatically mean you’re left behind as new technology comes out – but you have to make the effort to keep up, something which I admittedly stopped doing circa the early 2000s. Sometimes I see the kids casually watching YouTube on our large flat-screen TV and feel compelled to tell them about how, when dad and I were kids, we just had to wait and be lucky and get up ridiculously early to watch hours of Rage in the hope one of our favourite songs would come on. I saw the puzzled look on Miss 10’s face recently when she tried to skip an ad while I was watching free-to-air TV and the remote wasn’t responding. Such was my desire to show them how hard things were “back in my day” that I made them watch an episode of Catweazle (ironically, on YouTube) to gain an understanding of the hardships I had endured. I must admit, they seemed genuinely horrified.

I wonder what sorts of stories they might tell their own children one day: “You know, when I was your age, we had to pause YouTube and get up to get our own popcorn out of the microwave; the robot didn’t just bring it over.

“And if Grandma asks if you want to watch Catweazle, just say no …”