Dude, let’s ease Gen Z on down the road to Funky Town

Burt's Eye View

I read the other day that people born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s — today’s young adults — cannot fathom a world before the internet, cellphones and instant entertainment.

They are Generation Z. Most likely, you will find them with their noses melded to a digital screen.

I do not belong to Generation Z. I am from Generation Disco.

My junior high and high school years were spent among polyester, elephant bells, medallions and chest hair. Get down tonight and take me to Funky Town. I’m stayin’ alive.

And talk about technology, baby, we had it. Dig this — Generation Disco reveled in eight-track tapes, Beta videos and Atari “Pong.” It was righteous!

I even installed a CB radio in the car I drove to high school. A fancy radio — it had 40 channels. Whenever I wanted to know where any of my friends were hanging out, I clicked the mic and warbled, “Breaker, breaker, one-nine. Hey, Spartan Dog, you got your ears on? What’s your 20, c’mon?”

I’d listen through the chatter and static until Spartan Dog — Bill, I think, or maybe it was Scott — responded. That was my cue to answer, “Ten-four, good buddy. I’m 10-8 to your crib.”

See, in Generation Disco, we no longer spazzed out because our telephones were affixed to walls. We could rap instantly anywhere. As long as we were in our cars. And our cars weren’t far out of range.

I’m not jiving you — it was a groovy era.

Here’s the disturbing thing. I fear that I have grown too young for my age group. My phone screen says I might be Generation Z.

The transformation makes sense. I started out as a 1950s baby boomer but morphed into a Child of the ’60s. Literally. I was a child in the 1960s. From there, I eased on down the road to Generation Disco.

It’s been decades since I touched a CB or boogied up, down or sideways. I’ve kept evolving all the way to constantly connected. I’ve been hooked by apps and Google.

It hasn’t gotten so bad that I bumped into street signs while texting. I possess the willpower to leave the phone at home when I take walks. I still prefer real-live birds and trees to onscreen images, no matter how good the graphics.

But other than that, the silly device seems to be always by my side.

Once, I accidentally left my smartphone in the car after coming home from a late night at work. The jitters set in moments after I closed the back door.

“But it’s bedtime,” I thought. “The phone can stay outside while I sleep.”

I guess I haven’t completely given up Generation Disco. One thing about us these days is we have to get up two or three times a night to … well, we have to get up. And every single time, I pawed the bedside table for my phone to check for the time, messages and latest posts. I thought it would be a better night without the interruptions but I barely got any sleep without my Generation Z pacifier.

This has to stop. Generation Disco-ers, let’s drop the smartphones and introduce Generation Z to life before screens. If you’re cool with that, book it over to your CB and give me a holler. Unless your 20 is under a glitter ball. My baby boomer body slipped that disco years ago.

— Shoot the breeze with Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.

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