Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 30, 2011/ 4 Teves, 5772

The Social Medium, Not The Message

By Suzanne Fields




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | This is the week that pits the old fogies against the rising generations in determining "what's in" for 2012 and "what's out" for 2011. Fashion and political opinions have traditionally made for a showdown at Generation Gap, but now, as we move into a new year, there's a communication gap, too. It's as much about process as substance in how we see the future.

Some compare the generational conflicts in terms of speed — what's slow and what's moving in the fast lane, what we can reflect on and what we must experience urgently in the moment. From this point of view, how we receive information becomes as important as what we know. This pits the digitally hip texters with smartphones and Facebook profiles who get their reading material from the Internet against the older among us who cling to information derived from paper in books and newspapers. The older condescend only occasionally to read on a Kindle or an iPad.

Making matters worse are the Internet activists in the living room who reduce communication to 140 characters and never look up while making plans. Their attention is always somewhere else. Those who want to engage them in extended conversations about the past, such as what happened yesterday, learn they might as well be asking why Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.

It's a truism, which continues to be true, that you only know — really know — your own generation up close and personal. We see that mostly in the pop culture, with questions about favorites in music, art and books. Huge nostalgia gaps in the culture are determined by the era in which you were born.

The same goes for political events. "You're not a baby boomer if you don't have a visceral recollection of a Kennedy and a King assassination, a Beatles breakup, a U.S. defeat in Vietnam, and a Watergate," writes P.J. O'Rourke, an aging boomer whose generation for one short minute boasted that it would never trust anyone over 30. The culture gave them a pass. There were too many of them for frightened and intimidated adults to assert themselves.

Now that the boomers are far beyond 30, nestled among the 50- and 65-year-olds, they've got a record we can at last evaluate. If, as O'Rourke suggests, they can most easily be blamed for having screwed up the culture, trashing everything from love and marriage to the economy and politics. But he doesn't want to stop there. Writing in The Weekly Standard, he shows there's lots of blame to spread around currently for the stupidity of the pop culture, including all those unmemorable memoirs and "self-helplessness" tracts created and consumed across generations. It's the clever criticism of hindsight, but his argument is more than a demonstration of wit.

Every generation chooses the fight it wants to win against the generation preceding, even when it's not sure what that fight ought to be about. This was the idea captured in the 1953 movie classic, "The Wild One," before the boomers put their stamp on the pop culture. When a pretty girl asks Johnny, the hipster on a motorcycle, played by Marlon Brando, "What'cha rebelling against?" Brando replies, "What'cha got?"

As we move into the new year, it may help those over 30 to recognize they've still got the ability to scorn bad ideas. The new social media is neither as revolutionary nor as earthshaking as the pop pontificators may think. The focus for criticism shouldn't be on the technology, but how technology is used, and for what.

The Economist magazine finds parallels in today's social media with the way people pushed the ideas in the 16th century that ushered in the Reformation. The printing press helped to put ideas quickly into pamphlets easy to circulate, but it took a network of willing traveling merchants, traders, preachers and sympathetic citizenry to carry the pamphlets from one town to another. Like tweets, ideas spread spontaneously. Instead of downloading music, poets composed impious lyrics and parodies to familiar folksongs and hymns, easily sung in communal choruses as "newsy" ballads for the reformers.

Debates found a forum even for the illiterate, who heard arguments repeated by their friends and families in inns, taverns, markets, guilds and homes. The academic allies of the pope, who wrote in Latin, fought a fierce rearguard battle against the popularizers. Still, the reformers wouldn't have succeeded if those who got the message hadn't agreed with Martin Luther about corruption in the Roman church.

The medium isn't the message, it's merely a tool. No matter what age, what'cha rebelling against depends on what'cha got. We should keep that in mind when we decide what we keep for 2012, and what we toss out.

Happy New Year.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Comment on JWR contributor Suzanne Fields' column by clicking here.

Up

Suzanne Fields Archives

© 2006, Creators Syndicate, Suzanne Fields

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles