Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Real World

My graduation from WWU 2005
As always, May is a turning point in young lives everywhere. The caps and gowns are a visible symbol of young people leaving the comfortable nest of home and “Pomp and Circumstance” into  the “real world.”

My two oldest grandchildren both earned the all important diploma to signify their accomplishments—one a college degree and the other finished high-school headed off to college. Although I’ve been with them through the years, it doesn’t seem possible they are both adults now.

I can imagine how proud their Grandpa Jim would have been! The grandkids were the center of his life, before his real world became a scary and confusing place.

I can’t help but compare the world today to what it was when I graduated high school long, long ago. When I was a teenager,  problems and failures were private family business, not shared with the world via the internet. I probably have a dozen photos of me growing up, but now kids may have a dozen photos posted online in a single day.

In my wildest imagination, I could never have predicted a time when we would carry around a device in our pockets with access to the entire world at our fingertips. I couldn’t have foreseen flipping through hundreds of channels on a television set. We had three channels and the remote control was whichever  kid was told to turn the channel, and rotate the antenna.

We still don’t have flying cars like the Jetson’s had, but some have truly amazing optional features available: Cars that warn you if someone is in your blind spot, adjustable everything, and cameras that seem to know exactly where to point.

My son told a story about his daughter sitting in an older vehicle. Looking around, she pointed at the manual window crank, and asked, “What’s that for?”

“You roll the window down with it,” my son said, demonstrating.

“Well, that’s just stupid,” she said. Things that seem stupid now were commonplace not so long ago.

My pursuit of a degree was delayed due to having children and then going through many years of trying to stretch the dollars to pay the bills. I received an associate’s degree from a community college when my kids were young, but didn’t get my bachelor’s until 2005.

School certainly changed between high school and community college. I tested out of a math class in junior college without realizing that it wasn’t considered cheating to use a calculator. Who knew?

By the time I was working on my bachelors, I had a PC and internet. I took online classes. One of my classes required us to check out websites and evaluate them for trustworthiness. In many ways, getting my degree later in life gave me skills and confidence to tap into the power of technology.

The changes I’ve seen throughout my lifetime, make me realize how mind boggling the world will be in another century. What will the world be like for my grandchildren when they are my age? What will the “real world” be like then?

Copyright © May 2016 by L.S. Fisher

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