I am faced today with the eternal question of intellectual supremacy, the newer generation versus the older generation. Am I smarter than my mother was? And, along the same lines, is Tanvi smarter than I am?
I refuse to believe she is smarter than me (although it would delight me no end, if she were!). I feel her so-called ‘smartness’ is only a result of a bigger & better exposure to the things around her. She is more exposed to the world, social situations, the media & technology today than I ever was. Same holds true for me & my mother. I wasn’t smarter than her. I just happened to be far more aware of things happening around me than she was, thanks to better & easy access to information sources. My daughter started ‘playing’ with a mobile phone by the age of 2. It was one of her earliest ‘real’ toys. Compare this to my first brush with mobile communication. I bought my first handset in 2002 that was just eight years back at the (ripe, by today’s standards) age of 24!
It’s like a twenty year advance introduction to mobile technology for my daughter. A giant leap in the ways of the altered communication systems! Obviously she is going to find it easier to understand the nitty-gritty of a handset, is going to make/receive calls with ease, run through the features of the mobile like a pro; in short, she is “smarter” when it comes to usage of mobiles. Unlike me; whenever I have changed handsets I have taken pains to get used to the new features on the new set. Most often, I have missed the familiarity of the old set & felt lost in the jingo of the new one. But then, that doesn’t make me any less smart than my daughter or any smarter than my mother who actually never went beyond using the BSNL instrument for calling people.
I was still actively using our dear old Indian Postal service as a main channel of communication right till I was 20. My daughter might never lick an envelope to seal it - ever! She would most likely send her first letter through an email or better still a text message or maybe even a ping on Skype! But that in no way makes her smarter than me! It only gives her the ‘at the right place, right time’ kind of privilege. Of course, she may be ‘better’ (in the sense of ‘faster’) than the others of her class/age in how she uses it but definitely not more intelligent than a previous generation. And by the same logic, I am no smart-ass for knowing the do’s & don’ts of email etiquette compared to my mother whose greatest & most complicated use of postal correspondence was a telegram.
Even when it comes to the world of movies & entertainment, the same thing holds true. Tanvi knows the names some of the Bollywood actors & actresses & their movies & their songs & dances to their numbers simply because she has been born & grown into a world of an entertainment overload. Calling out for Shah Rukh in a theatre & doing an impromptu jig is so normal for her. On the same lines, my father-in-law has been a Sean Connery fan from like forever. In fact, he introduced Sathya to the action & thrill of Hollywood films. But now that Sathya shakes a leg to the beat of Eminem doesn’t make him any more ‘cool’ than his dad. If his father would have had the on the ‘click-of-a-button’ access to youtube & dime a dozen DVDs & posh multiplex screens in every street worth its name, during his youth, maybe he would end up being ‘cooler’ than Sathya!
The newer generation is NOT smarter than the older generation. If circumstances could be controlled & if we could live in the same world so to say, we both would react & respond similarly & also excel equally. Our sensibilities are shaped by the availability of all forms of media. The lack or surplus decides how comfortably we relate to the ‘in’ things of today, the newest trends, whether it is in social networking, or entertainment or communication.