The Texting Pattern of Baby Boomers

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This essay discusses the large demographic of “Baby Boomers,” outlining their defining set of features and standards of behaviour. It will also assess the texting patterns of said baby boomers and how they interact with this technology. Next the essay will incorporate an example from the Netflix Original series “Master of None” of how Baby Boomers use cellphones to text.

The Baby Boomer generation, also known as the “now” generation, the “love” generation, and the “me” generation (Gianoulis 2013), is defined as people who were born between the years 1946 to 1964. Birth rates after World War II spiked globally thus creating the largest population of a generation in history. More than 8.2 million babies were born with an average of about 412, 000 a year (Stat Can 2011). On average during this period, women would have between 3-4 children in comparison to about 1-2 children in previous years (Stat Can 2011). 

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This phenomenon likely happened due to numerous factors: “people wanting to start the families that they put off during World War II, a socially encouraged tendency for people to marry at a younger age, and a sense of confidence that the coming era would be safe and prosperous.” (Kenton 2017). With the increase in new consumer products at an alarming rate and rise in working wages, young families flocked to the suburbs from the cities to start their new families. Former military personnel now had easier access to affordable homes thanks to the G.I. bill, creating an “ethos of the ideal family comprised of the husband as provider and the wife as a stay-at-home housekeeper” (Kenton 2017).

Fast forward to the 1980’s the Baby Boomer generation along with their families are introduced to the digital age. The mediums to communicate to one another have broadened wider than ever. Before the era of “face-timing” to “skyping” and a myriad of social platforms, one of the main non-face-to-face forms of communication among all generations is texting. Texting involves creating and sending brief messages between mobile devices over a data or cellular network. 

The idea of texting was initially introduced in 1984 by Matti Makkonen, a Finnish Engineer. The concept started as mobile phones being able to receive messages by computers. It was in 1995 that mobile to mobile texting was established (Ganong, L.H , & Coleman 2014). “Cellular telephones, e-mail, and social networking web sites are now part of everyday life for many families” (Ganong, L.H , & Coleman 2014).

[bookmark: _Hlk189539][bookmark: _Hlk187342]It has been proven through extensive research that texting is still used as a predominant way in maintaining social relationships. According to Open Market research, short message service (SMS) is still used by 5 billion people globally (Lunny 2017). A U.S. survey of 254 adults age 18 and over shows that 80% of the applicants said, “they could not go more than a day without responding to a text” (Eddy 2015). When compared to e-mailing and phone calls, texting is the number one preferred source of communication (Barker 2017). 

In addition, a study conducted in January of 2018 by the Pew Research Center showed that around 95% of all adult Americans own a cellphone, while 100% of adults aged 18-29 own a cell phone. The study indicates that almost every demographic has a percentage of 90-100 ownership of a cellphone despite gender, race, income and age. 

With the technology of the telephone and written media such as emailing and texting, studies have shown that this has “effectively transcended generational barriers, with increased interaction positively associated with relational quality and satisfaction in grandparent-grandchild relationships” (Clarke & Tareg 2014). Due to the extreme popularity of texting, cell phone use could be means to extend the interactions between parents and their children.

The Netflix original series “Master of None” follows the story of Dev Shaw (Aziz Anzari) an aspiring actor in his early thirties and his life in New York City. “Master of None” is a comedy/slice of life show tackling issues between family, friendships, relationships, and career moves. In the episode “Parents” (season 1, episode 2) “first-generationers Dev and Brian try to show their appreciation for their immigrant parents at a joint family dinner” (Netflix 2015). 

The episode begins with Dev and Brian making up excuses to avoid helping their respective immigrant parents in small errands. In a humorous light, the show follows the parents’ hardships growing up in their home country to contrast their children’s “first world problems”. As an example, Brian’s dad, Peter, asks his son to pick up a bag of rice before heading out to the movies with his friend, Dev. 

Brian rejects his dad’s errand claiming that “he loves answering those movie trivia questions they put up before the show” and proceeds to leave early. The camera then pans in on Peter and transitions to a flash back in 1958 of his childhood. The flashbacks present Peter having to kill his pet chicken for dinner, followed by him moving to America for “better opportunities and a better life” in 1981, and then getting rejected from an empty diner because he’s Asian. 

In 1983 they show Peter and his wife owning a restaurant with their business doing well. The last flashback shows him holding his newborn son, Brian, in his arms saying “all our sacrifice has been worth it. He will have a better life. Here he will be able to do anything he wants.” The show then cuts back to the present-day scene where Brian leaves early to catch the movie trivia questions.

In this scene it is apparent that Peter speaks in a very direct manner. He asks his son if he “read the Economist article he emailed him” because “it exposes how farm subsidies are slowly leading them to a countrywide drought within ten years” (Netflix 2015). Despite growing up and living in Taiwan for most of his life, Peter speaks in a very clear and matter of fact way.

Later in the episode, Brian and Dev decide to take their parents out to dinner in order to learn more about their past. The following day while the two are discussing how successful the dinner was Dev receives a text from a “group chat” he is in with his dad, Ramesh, Peter, and Brian. However, it is soon discovered that the parents have added the wrong ‘Brian’ in the chat and instead have added ‘Brian Donkers’. The text discussion is as follows:

Within this text dialogue, it is apparent how their parents’ texts mimic the way that they talk. Peter speaks in a very matter of fact manner and tries to joke around with his son’s friend, much like a dad would. Ramesh is then shown after texting in all-caps unlike their son. Earlier in the episode a text chain is shown between Brian and Dev as follows:

In comparison to the former transcript, the texts between Brian and Dev are short and sweet incomplete sentences following an on-going conversation. With messages like “Agreed” and “Headed over,” the audience can differentiate the styles of texting between their generations; that being Generation Y, people born between 1977-1996, and that of baby boomers. Ramesh and Peter are very wordy and direct with their texts, whereas Dev and Brian use shortcuts and bursts of text to express their ideas. In addition, throughout the show Ramesh is shown voice calling instead of texting. 

When Ramesh does text, it is very apparent that he is not technologically advanced. In the beginning of the episode Ramesh has trouble receiving calendar notifications on his tablet and asks Dev to help him. He even refers to notifications as “ding dings” and complains that “there were no ding dings today” (Netflix 2015).

Text messaging is used differently between generations. For the Baby Boomers, Peter and Ramesh, text messaging is used as instantaneous mail or to substitute phone calls to arrange plans in these examples. Meanwhile, Generation Y, Brian and Dev, use texting to hold on going conversations. In this episode of “Master of None”, the differences between generations is represented through the technology of texting.

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