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Technology changes but our experiences stay the same
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I realized how my parents must feel as they encounter new technology and see their children integrate it into their lives. And when I realized the 1960s weren't that long ago, I felt really old. - photo by Amy Choate-Nielsen
The other day, my 2-year-old toddled up to me and glanced at my phone.

He saw me moving my thumbs over the screen, and he nonchalantly said to me, You texting, mommy?

I paused, mid-message, and I laughed as I answered him.

Yes, buddy, I am.

He went on his way, completely unaware that he just used a word from his tiny, 2-year-old vocabulary that didnt even exist in my world until I had graduated from high school.

Back then, Internet was a word I was just learning. World Wide Web was a series of words I couldnt even comprehend. I still remember the first time I encountered the Web. Id heard it was a place that could connect you to anything, anywhere, anytime. I expected to find some kind of a fourth-dimensional axis on the Web some kind of room with a window into infinity.

One day, a friend told me shed been on the Internet. I was full of questions. What was it like? How do you connect to anything you want? What did you find? What did it look like?

Her answers didnt make any sense. I couldnt visualize what she was talking about. And when I had the chance to go visit her out of state, I couldnt wait to try out the Internet myself. Honestly, I was in Maine, on a beautiful pebble-rock beach on the Atlantic ocean, a stones throw from Kennebunkport, and one of the main things I remember about that trip is that I finally, for the first time in my life, surfed the Web.

It wasnt as shocking as I thought it would be, but that moment in my life became a defining portal that changed my world forever one day there was no Internet, the next there was.

These days, my kids are as familiar with technology as I ever was they dont know that world before the Internet. They know writing tablets, hand-held game devices, computers, phones, iPods and wireless sources, not tic-tac-toe. They know how to use a Nintendo Wii to watch their favorite shows on TV. They know how to FaceTime their grandparents in Virginia. I still remember the first time I held a CD in my hand, thinking it was a good idea because the tape on my cassettes tended to get tangled and twisted and CDs eliminated the tape.

My kids hardly know what CDs are anymore.

So this is how my parents must feel, looking back.

Ive often felt that my parents came from a different world. I always listened to stories about the 60s when they were smart, young teenagers with fascination. I always felt like the 60s were forever ago, when cars were big and colors were bright and everything looked like a drug trip. I couldnt relate. I didnt even try.

But a few months ago, my mother told me a story that changed my perspective.

I asked her about one of her most memorable Christmases.

I thought she might say something about some morning she woke up early and got the present she had always wanted, or some other year when they went caroling, but instead, she told me about the time she went to her cousins house to watch Walt Disneys Wonderful World of Color in 1961.

Her family had a black-and-white television, but her mothers sister had a color TV set. So the family drove more than an hour away to gather around and watch the show, in color, for the first time. That was one of those portal moments before, there was no color TV, then there was.

The funny thing is, Id never even heard of the Wonderful World of Color before, so I Googled it. I did some reading about the show, which ran from 1961-1969, and I found a copy of the very first episode of the series on YouTube, and I started watching.

It dawned on me as I saw the little German duck, Ludwig Von Drake, enter the screen that I had seen this before. I grew up watching a copy of the show on VHS, and I played it on our VCR. I even knew the words to the song he sang: Ive got those green with envy blues, I mean those red with anger blues, and theres the purple with passion blues over you.

Then I realized the 1960s are closer to the 1980s than the 2010s are.

The technology might be changing, but our experiences are still the same. Even as we get older, there are still portals to go through.

Just ask my mom a couple of weeks ago, she joined Facebook.
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