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The old days and the new

The opportunity to have lunch with strangers is not one that should be passed up. Maybe the Peabody Senior Center indoor picnic was sparsely attended, but it was home to some good conversation.

The “good old days” were brought up by someone — I don’t know who — and of course the natural follow was “kids these days.” The conversation, from there, turned to me.

“Are you the intern?” Leroy Wetta asked.

“Well, no — I’ve been at the paper just over a year now,” I respond.

I’m used to being mistaken for someone younger. I was asked how it is growing up in “this day and age.” The answer’s a bit complicated. It got me thinking.

Perspective is everything, and no two perspectives are the same, but I’ll say this for 2015: You never feel far away from anything.

Maybe I moved to Kansas to get away from friends and family back home. Maybe I just wanted to miss them. I’m here, and though they’re far away, they don’t feel far away.

I regularly text my dad and my two brothers. I call my mom every so often. My friends and I still do things together — only, those things happen online.

It’s comfortable. And that’s a bit disappointing, considering that I came to Kansas to be somewhere different.

I’ve seen a lot of friends my age traveling to outdoor places — mountains, oceans, other countries. After growing up in the digital hive that is our world, it’s only natural that we seek out basic earthly beauties.

I may sound ungrateful, but I just prefer the solitude. Growing up in the Internet age, you’re constantly exposed to everything. It’s a boon for group discovery, and the ruination of self-discovery.

Many of us feel listless. These days, everything is over-contextualized. Discovery is more like re-discovery, and re-discovery just isn’t as meaningful.

Oh, but isn’t that how every generation feels? “Everything’s faster, people are less folksy, and we suddenly forget what it is that made us take pride in ourselves.” Sounds familiar, right?

The conversation at the indoor picnic turned — as it inevitably would — to politics. The recent Republican debate was the issue.

The general consensus was mistrust of both the candidates and the process by which they are presented. One thing that hasn’t changed, it seems: Our politics reflect the culture we live in.

Increasingly, though, we live in two separate cultures: the online world and the real world.

While online, political divide is rampant and mistrust wins out, we’re lucky enough to live in a real world where they still offer you a seat at lunch regardless of your political views. Even if they’ve never seen your face before.

Not all things new are bad. You just have to take time to log off, reach out, and touch them.

— ELIOT SILL

Last modified Aug. 12, 2015

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