The Way We Live Now #10: Kids These Days

During the pandemic, we’ve all paid a lot of attention to the big-to-huge social events that have been disrupted; sporting events, weddings, live performances, festivals, graduations, and now probably Thanksgiving. In May, the media devoted attention to the graduating class of 2020, who would not walk down an aisle or get to have parties. Birthday parties, wedding showers, baby showers, and so on have moved, mostly, online, or aren’t happening at all.

I wonder what the current generation of tweens and teens will think of social get-togethers once we have distributed an effective vaccine and moved into the next phase of our lives with the coronavirus. I’m thinking now, not of the big events, but the types of face-to-face get-togethers that my high school friendships thrived on, which are largely gone right now.

I’m thinking of things as simple as walking home from school with your buds; that precious chance to debrief, have your besties assure you that you were right and mean old Mr. Swanson just needs to chill. I’m wondering about the gaggle of teens, boys and girls, I used to see sitting on the retaining wall by Safeway after Analy got out. Sure, several of them were smokers, but that was a social gathering, and they were there nearly every day.

This year (and maybe, worst case scenario, next year) you don’t go to your friend’s house to play video or tabletop games, to jam some music. Book clubs, reading groups and writing critique groups have gone online. And the time-honored hanging-out-a-coffee-house is not indicated either.

Will these kids grow up investing in-person events with an aura of the strange, even the illicit? Will hanging out for coffee carry a whiff of the forbidden? Or, will kids just adjust, and be saying, “Why would I ride my bike all the way to Darla’s house when I can Facetime with her?”

Young people turned up in person in record numbers to protest racial injustice, and celebrate the election results. They were masked and they were out there, dancing, carrying signs, filming themselves. They still get the power of the in-person event.

Humans are mammals, and social (clannish) mammals. What I’m saying is, there is still a lot of important information we gather from in-person interactions. Anyone who’s been doing a lot of videoconferencing or emailing knows this. We’re also adaptable. Will today’s youth grow up with in-person interactions as a nice-to-have, but able to somehow parse minute data from online interactions in a way I can’t? It seems possible.

I will stay tuned.

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One Response to The Way We Live Now #10: Kids These Days

  1. Terry Connelly says:

    I wonder the same. Will people continue limited gatherings or return to huge parties?

    Well said.

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