There are times when I feel positively youthful. Visiting hospital is not one of them (all the doctors look like Doogie Howser, or his little sister. I was in line at the St Mike's hospital coffee shop yesterday and the guy in scrubs ahead of me looked -- I swear to you -- like he was there for take your kid to work day. I was seriously creeped out). But watching 60 Minutes while visiting my mom in hospital -- and if I watched the show regularly, I would be able to tell you which evening it was -- was like a trip to the fountain of youth. The bit I saw was an editorial by a crusty old codger (this may not be enough of a clue to identify him; he also had white hair and a large oak desk. In the photo there, he'd be one of the guys in the front row) on the subject of email. I watched this elderly gent gesticulate from behind his desk ... I listened to him rant on and on about how impersonal email was, how kids today didn't understand communication, how he himself looked forward to his local postie delivering the mail and nothing but nothing could compare with the joy of receiving news of a friend in an actual letter with a stamp on it ... and my smile grew like Topsy. I felt positively boyish. What an old fart you are, I said to the TV screen. What a fuddy duddy. What a (thanks, Bugs Bunny) maroon.
Like so many opinions stated emphatically and positively, this geezer's idea of youth culture is not only wrong, it is completely false. It could not be less true. The typical youth of today is not at all ignorant of communication. She or he or they or it embraces communication, loves communication, stays overnight at communication's house and has breakfast with it. Teens and tweens today are in almost total communication all the time, as close to a state of nirvana -- oneness with the universe -- as any generation in history. My kids can simultaneously talk to one friend online or on the phone, message another, check the price/availability of a pair of boots, and answer my probing questions about the state of their homework. In the time it takes to deliver a handwritten letter to an old man sitting behind an oak desk, a young man or woman (or whatever) can experience an entire relationship from first greeting to total intimacy, maybe even including marriage and subsequent breakup. They travel fast along the road of life, the youth of today, and, though they may miss some of the scenery along the way, they cover way more ground. I applaud them. The future of communication is in their hands, and I am pleased and hopeful.