I recently saw a meme on Facebook that said something along the lines of “how to make a millennial panic: lock them in a room with only a phone book and a rotary phone and write the instructions in cursive!” It had this smug “aha, gotcha” vibe oozing out of it, and it…just sort of made me laugh. Like, really? Really? But it also made me think…
Beyond the fact that I know how to use both a phone book and a rotary phone and can read cursive (as long as it’s not too horrifically messy), I think it was the attitude of “Oh no, we’ve got you because you couldn’t possibly figure out how to use something that’s new to you” that really made me snort. But I think that’s the key to this and similar memes that I’ve seen.
They don’t think we could figure out how to use something new to us, because they can’t do it.
Like, if you presented a millennial with a rotary phone or a phone book and they had never, ever used one or seen one used before, I can guarantee pretty much any millennial could figure out how to use it. Because that’s what we do: we adapt. We’ve been through so many variations of technology and seen so many new forms of technology emerge that we’ve had to learn to adapt swiftly and fluidly. It’s second nature to us.
Put a boomer in a room with a smartphone, laptop, and tablet however, and well…different story.
I’m not sure if they literally don’t understand that presenting a millennial with something they haven’t encountered before would not be an obstacle and certainly not a panic-inducing one, or if they just say things like that to make themselves feel better that they couldn’t do the equivalent, or if it’s a combination of the above.
I just realized that the original meme is also, quite accidentally, basically describing the principle behind….. escape rooms.
You know, the recent popular trend in participatory entertainment in which thousands of millennials literally go out and pay money to voluntarily be locked in a room where they have to solve puzzles under a time pressure, often using antiquated or analog technology, secret codes, and mechanisms they don’t yet understand, all without using their phones/the internet. For fun.
For many of us, that’s not panic-inducing, that’s just our idea of an enjoyable Saturday night out with some friends!
Now I’m just laughing even harder.