I thought I was too young for nostalgia to have kicked in yet. And then I made my second cousin cry.
It wasn't intentional really. He's only 4.
We were all on vacation together (my cousins that is) and his father asked if I might help out by turning on the TV for the little ones. Hoping to get some gold stars in the cool and collected older-relative-without-kids category, I obliged.
"I want cartoons," Mr. 4 year old demanded.
"No problem." I said and flipped on the set. It was on MSNBC so I pressed the channel up button. That wasn't cartoons either. I thought it was no problem. But it was a BIG problem.
"I want carTOOOONS," he screamed.
"Just a second" and I pressed the channel up button again. And didn't find cartoons there either.
"I WANT TO WATCH CARTOONS," he shrieked bordering on hysteria. And that's when it all went to hell. He continued to disintegrate further and further each time I clicked the button desperately searching for cartoons, as though the actual fact of me pressing the button was existentially tazing him or something. And then he started to cry. "But I wanted the CARTOONS."
Thankfully, this is when his father stepped in.
"Oh, sorry about that. He doesn't understand broadcast television. He only understands things that stream instantly. He thinks you're torturing him by refusing to put on the show he wants."
Oh my Lord, I thought. This was truly the child of another generation, a child who would grow up without many of the formative experiences of my youth. And that was when I fell down the rabbit hole of nostalgia.
He (clearly) will never understand waiting for his favorite TV show to come on. He will simply watch them on Netflix.
He will likely never watch a video tape of something recorded off TV, in which the editing out of commercials meant the first 3 seconds after every break were missing. Instead, he'll log onto Hulu and find it in its entirety.
And he probably will never have to wait up all of Friday night to hear if he favorite song would come on the radio, finger poised over the record button of his tape player the entire time. Instead, he will download things on ITunes.
Actually, come to think of it, he probably will grow up without knowing what a tape is: without the whir of the player, without the loud click of it reaching the end, without the agony of having just spent 8 minutes rewinding the wrong side.
He will probably never spend most of his life singing the entirely wrong lyrics to his favorite songs ("Secret Asian Man" for instance) only to be corrected by a lucky friend who bought the album and can consult the lyrics in the front booklet. He will simply look all these things up on the internet.
Will he ever, I wonder, learn to look things up in an encyclopedia? Hauling the big volume emblazed with the correct letter off the shelf in order to answer some dinner table quarrel? Likely not. Even my father, who is not far from twenty times his age has a Droid for these types of things.
In many ways, he will have a totally different life. Which makes me wonder, is it always like this? What are the things that our parents said of us, 'I can't believe they'll grow up without..." I can think of some, but I wonder if others are lost to us. Lost to the tides of change where changing channels is as foreign as an 8-track.
What a world we live in.