This is the first year when I’m exactly twice as old as my Freshman students. Being in academia helps one connect with young people and remain younger for longer. Still, I’m afraid that a moment will come when I will lose touch and become irrelevant to my students.
I’ve been reading this recent mystery novel by my favorite Ruth Rendell. The writer is 82 years old and she still publishes 2 books a year, which is beyond admirable.
However, in her new novel The St. Zita Society, it has become obvious for the very first time that the writer has fallen behind the times. There is a scene in the novel where her 20 and 30-year-old characters all go out to get their favorite newspapers. As we all know, this makes no sense because people of these age groups do not read news on paper. If for whatever reason they do experience a need to keep themselves informed, they will read a paper on their Kindle and iPad, find an online version, or turn on the TV (even though this is the practice that is also dying out among the younger folks.)
The 24-year-old protagonist who is anxious to find if something that bothers her has been mentioned on the news never Googles the information. She waits for a newspaper to come out.
Whenever characters need a carpenter or a plumber, they look for a phone book.
Nobody does an online search or updates their Facebook status. Nobody reads or writes a blog. Nobody has a tablet of any sort. We are talking about characters who are, for the most part, quite young. Yet they don’t do the things that define the life of young people today.
I know I still have 46 years to go before I reach Rendell’s age, but I’m still kind of worried.
P.S. If you are Ruth Rendell’s fan, I do not recommend this novel. It’s one of the most indifferent and boring pieces of writing this author has ever produced. And there is no mystery whatsoever, either.