Illustration by Kahil Gibran
This post goes with the earlier one on research, and speaks to trying to find common ground with an audience with whom you aren't that familiar.
I have a fourteen-year-old niece. She is bright and attractive and comes across as older than her years. Her class is going on a trip to Greece later this spring, and in an email exchange, I told her to beware of Greeks bearing gifts.
It didn't mean anything to her.
She hasn't come across the mythological epic about the Trojan War, and thus doesn't have the reference.
My seven-year-old grandson knows everything there is to know about Guitar Hero™. Levels, songs, how to rock the solo for looks as well as working the controls.
What I know about Guitar Hero™ is that it doesn't make you a guitar player. Digital is not analog.
But if I want to try and reach an audience of teens, preteens, or tweens, I have to do the research to be able to lay it down. More, I have to have a clue where to start looking.
It's actually easier to go older. I've read enough history and listened to enough music to know something about Big Bands, WWII, gas rationing, and the Japanese Internment on the west coast. About the Great Depression, the dust bowl, and things that happened before I was born.
But younger, even though I am still here, is harder. I haven't kept up. The leading edge blew past me decades ago, and is way off in the distance.
I see this every time I read an article on post-modern art. Somehow, a turd in a bottle of oil sitting on a heating pad just makes me shake me head when somebody points at it and calls it "art."
When my children were teens, I would watch MTV, to see what music the young 'uns were into. Does MTV even play music vids any more? I can tell you all the members of the Beatles or the Stones, but not of the eighties hair- or glam-bands. Dude looks like a Lady -- sure. Anything by Poison? Not my cup of tea.
My grandchildren can text, watch videos, talk on the phone and listen to iPods all at the same time. I can't, and moreover, don't want to, and don't see how spending 100% of your free time locked into a computer is a good thing. I keep seeing the people on the starship in Wall-E.
I don't understand. And I can't, not really.
From Gibran's The Prophet, "On Children:"
"And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children."
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."
Man had a way with words, and a good eye.