How I know I’m “old” is that the younger generation now feels almost foreign to me. I feel awkward, sometimes, talking to people younger than 20.
It’s like visiting a country that I’ve studied extensively, and whose language I’ve grasped to an intermediate level, through courses. I think that the pictures I’ve seen, the news I’ve read, and the language tapes will be a close facsimile to reality, but I still tread tentatively.
I was once sixteen. Seventeen. Eighteen. I’ve been through their key milestones. I attended high school, endured high school dynamics, friendships, crushes, exams. And yet the mind of a teenager today, in this social media, gender fluid, more connected age, feels almost incomprehensible.
There’s a particular confirmation of my sense of this chasm, and one of the times it has expressed itself was in my time with Lachie, for Episode 21.
Shortly after he let me in to his family home, I met his mother. She was lovely, warm, and supportive of the interview taking place. She didn’t blink when Lachie discussed the two of us using the guest house to record – affording not only suitable acoustics, but privacy. Outside of her supervision.
Yes, he is at an age where he has relative free reign and of course hangs out with people away from home unsupervised. But the moment somehow seemed like she was trusting me to be alone with her child; and at this, I near-burst with gratitude.
This feeling deeply underscores my sense of the divide. That the people society now calls young and I: we’re no longer peers. I am older, and I have particular responsibilities and burdens that the generation below me could probably only understand academically.
It’s a strange thing to reckon with.
So yes. You can probably hear some of my awkwardness as I go about my conversation with Lachie. All my interviews are about trying to understand my subjects in some way – their experiences, their values, identity, their history. Here, I was trying to understand what it’s like to be a young person today, and hear one person’s take on their most important relationships.