Why don't people act their age?

I don’t want to Twitter and Tweet. I want to play bingo and enjoy the early bird special.

It's a difficult time of life because, essentially, I’m not sure what time of life it is. Like so many other people of my generation, I am torn between yearning to yell out B-I-N-G-O and panting at the prospect of going on Facebook.I am definitely conflicted. Do I look for condominiums in Florida or get a sleeping bag for the rock festival in Coachella?

I am confronted by these seemingly disparate choices because recently the generation gap has closed faster than a Bernard Madoff investment fund. It used to be each generation knew what it should be doing. Not these days.

We are all either very young, young, or still young. Everyone at every age believes, despite full-length mirrors, that they are hip, cool, hot, with it, and where it’s at. With iPhone in hand, they can act up to the minute, hot off the press (the electronic kind), and in sync with rock groups other than *NSYNC.

I blame all this loss of generational predictability on the Internet. Once you jump onto it, you have access to the kind of up-to-the-second information that used to be reserved for the most au courant of the young.

Now whether we’re singing along with Mitch or Rihanna, we all know, seconds after it happened, who did what to whom. We know what is happening with the famous and those yearning to be famous. No longer do we have to depend on our children to tell us who is going to be “in” or “out” next week. We tell them.

We Twitter and Facebook and Skype so that every aspect of our living becomes a shared experience.

This is not fair. Most of us looked forward to a time when we would be able to sit in an easy chair and explain to our know-it-all kids just why they didn’t know it all. “Back in my day, we could tell the difference between a boy and a girl. Girls wore skirts. And boys knew it.”

We eagerly anticipated the moment when our grandchildren would hop on our lap and let us tell them the story of ordering our first McDonald’s hamburger. (“And it was 15 cents!”) Now we text message them to see if they want to come over and play Wii.

We used to look forward to an era of 5 p.m. early-bird specials. Now we’re trying to stay awake so we can get a bad table at a Vietnamese-Polish fusion restaurant.
The fact is we should all start acting our age. Let’s start setting age laws other than the one that says, after you’re 21 it’s legal to act stupid. Let our kids designate websites and cable channels that are verboten to parents. How about decreeing no playing video games after 40?

And, since even the elderly need something to call their own, if you want to go to a Stones concert, just like the “boys” on stage, you can’t be a day under 60.

Chuck Cohen writes from Mill Valley, Calif.

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