It’s the 1980’s. All across America, latchkey kids in single-parent homes let themselves into an empty house after school. They head directly to the landline phone, the cordless one as big as their shoe, with push buttons because, well…rotary phones are passe. They dial a number and press in their home phone, wait for a signal, then hang up. Their mom receives a message on her “beeper” that this kid is home safe from school. She sees the pre-arranged code of her child, on the mini-screen of her beeper. Most days, before the child finishes their after-school snack, the landline rings and mom checks in with her child between her work-related tasks. This scenario was repeated millions of times every day across America. It represents one of the chief ways that love and belonging was learned for the GenXer. Through technology.
The phone was still a lifeline for sharing love in the GenX generation. Call waiting was introduced so no one ever got a busy signal ever again! There were answering machines that accepted messages even while you were away. No more missed calls! Except for the calls you wished for, but never came. That part didn’t change from the previous Boomer generations.
Email was introduced in the formative years of the GenXer and it became very cool to have your own “e-mail address.” Way cooler than asking for a phone number, was offering your email address! All the cool kids were doing it!
Why is this important?
These examples demonstrate how technology entered the way love was expressed in this generation. There was less face to face love and more “transmitted love.” All of these ways: phone, beeper, answering machine, or email could be used as methods to convey love but were also ways to administer rejection with no face to face repercussion. Imagine, being able to walk away from an inconvenient relationship with a message on an answering machine! And the recipient could replay it again and again, and sink further into rejection and despair. Oh, and others in the family might get the message first! A whole new level of humiliation and suffering in silence was offered to GenXers, thanks to the magic of technology!
Perhaps you experienced this kind of love and efficiency from your parents when you were a child. Perhaps your whole courtship and ensuing marriage is built rock solid on the magic of technology. Today, because you are more familiar with technological advances, you have probably progressed to all the evolutions from these humble beginnings and are raising your children with new generations of personal screens and wifi connections.
The important thing to remember for GenXers is to use technology to develop a bond with the ones we love. The Bible tells us to:
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)
Every effort includes technology! The best way to love a GenXer is to use technology to develop a “bond of peace.” E-discussions about topics of shared interest with them demonstrate love.These become very gratifying between generations. But for Traditionalists and Boomers, technology does not always come as easy and misunderstandings in the world of technology are frequent, and often unintentional. We must have a contingency plan!
If you lack shared interests, or have a disagreement, STOP! Don’t continue an unpleasant discussion till it becomes e-drama. Any pursuit besides peace in a technologically transmitted discussion can quickly escalate to a cyber-storm or even cyber-bullying the very people we are trying to bond with! and then you experience…cyber-silence. So unpleasant!
Peace is your best and biblical option.
- Re-set with a quick (really quick! think beeper quick!) phone call of a blanket apology, with an invitation to resume your e-connection.
- Allow some time for emotions to become peaceful again.
- Use the method of choice to re-engage about a shared interest.
- Pursue peace.
Have you had success communicating with a GenXer that is different than what I have described? Share your story in the comments section and help the older generations out! Or if you are a Millennial and are communicating with GenXers who are older, your perspective could be invaluable! My readers would love to have as many techniques as possible–please share!