Transitioning From Grandfather To Son

Talking to your son routinely runs the hazard of repeating yourself. That condition becomes exacerbated when you get cross at your wife for being irked with you for getting hot under the collar after repeating yourself four times.

Maybe it has something to do with shifts in society over time. We frequently hear people talk about generation gaps while others talk about things like the agricultural or the industrial ages of society.

The Neolithic Revolution, also called the Agricultural Revolution, marked the transition in human history from small, nomadic bands of hunter-gatherers to larger, agricultural settlements and early civilization.

While these ages of civilization took place over thousands of years, my own practical recollections span only a few fast decades and shows ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny yet again:

  • Grandfather was a farmer (agricultural age)
  • Father was an engineer (industrial age)
  • I live in the computer age (automation)
  • My son lives in the information age (big data)

Another example in my family line is sports

  • Grandfather did not participate in sport because there were none
  • Father could participate in amateur rugby and tennis
  • I had access to any professional sport and associated careers
  • My son is engulfed by politicized sports

I find myself conflicted with terminology used by my grandfather and my father while illuminating ideas for my son whose societal reference is big data. For him, my description is just one of millions and he is of course, literally, correct or confused (who would know?).

I also find myself getting hot under the collar that society do not seem to do the “right” things. And I am not alone apparently.  This group (with individuals likely of similar age) is complaining about the government budget.

We are writing as a group of economists and economic policy analysts to recommend your rejection of the Supplementary Budget tabled by the minister of Finance on Wednesday 24 June 2020.

Another “group” also complained bitterly about the corona lockdown.

A continued lockdown is not only damaging the economy, it promises a ‘humanitarian disaster to dwarf Covid-19’ by having a severe impact on the health and well-being of millions of South Africans. That is the gist of a detailed report sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa by a specialist panel headed by actuaries.

Both groups above have an average age at least 25 years younger than the groups implied in government, in some individual cases even 50 years younger.

Both these groups “know” better but in both cases nobody on either side explains their own conceptualizations of the situation implied. I remember my academic sister recently complaining about a piece I wrote because it was not up to University standards in terms of the definitions I used to explain the assumptions made in the topic area addressed by the essay.

In the above “age”-driven context I would agree with her, but not with the university though. After all, in real life nobody declares their age-driven assumptions. Just imagine you are talking to your son about Mechano sets using bolts and nuts and he says, “We use Lego nowadays Dad”. No matter what you say, the boy will give you a flat ignore.

In the Government cases above, the Government also gave the “expert” groups a flat ignore because they could not define their “age”-driven assumptions (either way).

And even if they did, it would not matter because the echo-chamber caused by the ages we live(d) in, is just another sign of our modern chaos.

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Author: Johann Theron

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I'm awesome! What else would I say about myself.