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By the way... Ask It's on touch-me mode, and wireless too

Aruna Harjani

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, February 15, 2019  /  08:59 am
By the way... Ask It's on touch-me mode, and wireless too

Young people using various gadgets (Shutterstock/File)

The new generation, empowered by a world of apps, search engines and state of the art gadgets, vows to be more efficient and intelligent.

“Alexa, let there be light,” a young man instructs his gadget. Voila! They have the internet in their palms and on their wrists and thrive on a heavy dose of updates.

The senior citizens in the evening of their lives, who switched on the lights with their fingers and not their voices, are in a constant platonic clash with the so-called new generation.

Where our generation had a hallway of advice from the elders, which was heeded as well, the new kids on the block beg to disagree.

For me, coming from an Indian heritage of culture and tradition our ancestors have taught us, passing the legacy on to the children of these days is no joke.

When told to practice a tradition, the first question from the new generation would be “why?”, “what for?”, “how will it improve our life?” and so on. That would be followed by: “See, open Google, it’s not there”.

The next question thrown to their parents would be: “Where did you get your data from?” Parents would reiterate, “Our elders have taught us, and too bad ‘Alexa’ didn’t exist back then, because she could have recorded the conversations we had.”

These are common issues amongst friends of all nationalities who secretly share their trivial stories once in a while. It is indeed a dilemma on our part for fear the traditions passed down by our elders will soon fade away because of their nonexistence in the internet.

I once overheard a conversation between a grandma, mother and a son while I was having a coffee.

The son argued: “Mom, it’s my wedding, and there is no need to follow our traditions. I am the new generation, the millennium. We do things simpler and faster.”

The mother refuted. “What is wrong with you? Just because I had you expensively educated in the West doesn’t mean you can forget where you come from. We have our culture and traditions to follow. You are my only son, all our relatives are looking forward to attending your wedding.”

Son replied, “This is my life, my marriage. If there are rules and regulations to follow then I would rather remain single”. He walks out.

Grandma cum mother-in-law scolded her daughter-in-law. “How did your son turn out this way? I kept on telling you to take care of him, and you spent most of your time attending parties and kitty meetings, see the result of your decision not to listen to me.”

Yeah, the new generation begs to differ.

One incident I will never forget was when I was organizing a teen play.

On the day of the general rehearsal I divided the youngsters into two sides. The ones on the left side were more focused, while the ones on the right side were playful.

After putting together the lights men and props girls to do their jobs, the teens on the right side kept running back and forth in the hall.

It reached a point where I couldn’t pacify them, and so I slipped out one of my slippers and pointed it at them (this worked on my children 27 years ago just to scare them so they would behave).

I thought it would scare them, but they ended up laughing. It was only when I threatened to call their parents that their overzealous minds went into a pastoral mode. Sigh. I am still wondering why a relative termed these gadget yuppies “the edan (crazy) generation”.

Back at the table with my kids, the argument continues on the importance of upholding our traditions.

While I was explaining to one of them who has an infant to shave his son’s head after 13 months, he looked at his cell phone trying to search on the topic.

I finally asked him about the point of searching the internet when he could simply ask me.

“I am, your search engine cum provider of information. I possess a platform of lifetime experience that robots like Alexa don’t have. I have many stories to tell you that are definitely not found on the internet!

“If you can’t find data regarding culture and traditions, just hold my hand, and you will be handed down all sorts of information sourced from historical observation and data accumulated by our ancestors.

“We had no internet during our time, but we pushed that imaginary button from our elders through our face-to-face conversations. I am not a touch screen but ‘touch me’ – and wireless.”

He looks at me and smiles. “This is one good thing with the new generation; we know when to keep quiet and just nod our heads. There will be consultations though with Alexa, regarding your statements, mom.”

In another place, a 60-year-old son questioned his 85-year-old mother as to why a certain tradition had to be practiced.

Probably knowing her son will also be skeptical of her answer and will surely bombard her with more “whys” and "hows", she neatly tells him, “Check in Google, it’s there”. Well as that cliché saying goes: If you can’t beat them, join them. (ste)

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