Then Versus Now
Gen X reminisces about outdoor games like hide and seek, Pithu, kho-Kho, played in the open with more gusto than skill and swears loyalty to board games like Monopoly. Gen Z, on the other hand, is busy with memes, music, movies and web series. Chitra Goyal makes a quick comparison of the two and believes that like Gen X, Gen Z will also have their own interesting stories to tell their children.
Belonging to the so called ‘GenX‘ in the modern jargon, I have a different level of hyped nostalgia associated with my childhood. Easy pace of life, face to face conversations and minimal exposure to anything other than our immediate surroundings, made life seem breezy and uncomplicated back then. To top this, I have a tendency to selectively retain only the good things from the past, making it seem like a paradise - completely idyllic! Cliched recall of outdoor games like ‘Pithu’, Gallery, Hide and Seek, Kho-Kho and so many more leisure activities instantly comes chasing down memory lane at the drop of a hat. Climbing trees, sitting and chatting, playing board games and inventing new ones, exploring new territories around our vast uninhabited surroundings and reading for hours together are few of the many common fun experiences most of us born in the 60’s or 70’s have grown up with.
I fondly remember how spending our summer vacation with our extended families of Chachas(uncles), Mamas and Massis (Maternal aunts) was our idea of a holiday. Once every two years LTC (leave travel concession) vacation availed by our ‘Government Servant’ parents, was a luxury we so looked forward to and enjoyed thoroughly. Absence of hobby classes and peer pressure left us with abundant free time to get inventive with our entertainment. Limited resources made us rely more on imaginative ‘let’s pretend’ role play games and applying our creative instincts to making toys out of household stuff. Using old wool to make pom-poms and Rakhis, eggshells for clowns, birds and other figurines, broken bangles for wall hangings, old cardboard boxes for doll houses and castles, match boxes to make trucks and cars, spare pieces of cloth for stitching doll clothes were few of the many things we used to do to entertain as well as keep ourselves gainfully occupied. Having lived in the hills, walking a few miles and crossing a few streams stepping over those mossy stones to get to our school, gave us our daily dose of adventure and thrill.
All these things seem so obsolete now, that when we recount and narrate these memories to our children it is often taken with a pinch of skepticism and disbelief. Remembering these sweet recollections from the past I often sadly wondered what kind of memories our children born in the Internet age, so different from ours, would end up making. Caged in my own definition of fun it was hard to imagine any other way of fun and enjoyment. However, bringing up my children, observing and reflecting with an open mind, I must admit, that contrary to our expectations, this generation has evolved their own ways to have fun. Much different from ours certainly but they do know how to amuse themselves and have a blast!
‘Gen Z’ is all about M’s and W’s. No, M and W do not refer to Men and Women; it is Memes, Movies, Music and World Wide Web. And these are things that connect them. On occasions that we hang out with our children’s friends it’s great fun to witness their animated conversations! I find myself in complete awe of their recall capacity- be it themes or characters from their favorite web series, personal lives of celebrities (ranging from their multitude of relationships to their entire history), music albums, knowledge about the singers, influencers, latest tweets and memes- there is so much more trivia that they know! They are a powerhouse of fun facts and information. Discussing Instagram sensations, Tik Toks, pulling each other’s leg and threatening to let out each other’s secrets, they have a riot of laughter.
Their exposure to a variety of sports and co-curricular actives in early childhood, albeit more structured now, gives them the option to discover their talents in an overt way and pursue them seriously if they desire to do so. Unlike us as children, thanks to their exposure, they also have well researched and defined opinions on topics ranging from global politics to social issues to entertainment and many more. And I dare not say anything about their creativity. Backed by tools and technology, exposed to such an enormous explosion of ideas their minds are open to a vast canvas of imagination. Travelling across boundaries, they experience different cultures and are so much more accepting and adaptable.
Good to realize that while we grew up enjoying an ‘Organic Feed’ from our surroundings, our children, albeit exposed to a ‘Highly Modified Feed’ have also been living very well. Far more versatile, knowledgeable, well rounded and widely travelled, these children shall indeed have interesting stories of their own to reminisce to their children!