816 North Opinion

July 28, 2014

David Knopf: Quick! When you think of fiber, what comes to mind?

If it’s Google Fiber, you’re on the young side of the Great Generational Divide. If it’s something else, digest the sad truth that you’re a geezer.

There’s no better yardstick for measuring the Great Generational Divide than how a person responds to fiber.

On my side, fiber is something delivered — in the form of fruit, vegetables and whole grains — to the wondrous machine that is the human body.

But things are very, very different on the other side of the divide. There, the generational measurement is taken by how excited a person is about the Coming of Google Fiber.

Judging from the reception in our house alone, I’m in the minority. My wife and son are both a-twitter over the advent of ultra-fast Internet, more TV channels and new features.

I’m still taking a wait-and-hand-me-my-glasses-and-I’ll-see approach.

But the excitement is palpable in the neighborhood, where Google Fiber arousal appears to rival the Messiah’s return, the Royals and Chiefs making the playoffs and bacon being declared a healthy-heart food.

When it comes to things digital, I’m old school and getting older-school every day. Take the television in my room. My wife and I bought it before our daughter was born. I can’t remember the year — we probably have the receipt filed away somewhere — but it was after we bought our first house in Tulsa in 1981.

I remember that night like it was yesterday. We ate dinner at the Eastside Café and strolled down to the mom-and-pop electronics store next door. We were pumped to get a 19-inch screen, but by today’s standards it’s something the Lilliputians might use.

I don’t keep that Motorola just for sentimental reasons. I push a button on the remote and the darn thing still works. I can flip through the stations, and after 15 minutes feel a nap coming on like a slow freight train in the night.

What more should I expect from a television? Plenty, my wife says.

As she points out, there are drawbacks to my Fred Flintstone set, which accommodates 60-plus cable channels but has none of the bells and whistles of modern technology.

For example, with no channel guide, I have to flip through all the stations to see what’s on. I view that as good thumb exercise, but it can get frustrating going through the infomercials, government channels and reality shows to find out there’s nothing interesting to watch but the Spanish channel — where I can try to guess what they’re saying — or that weather station where one of the meteorologists looks like Bill Murray and another has a unique accent that combines Japanese and Spanish.

My Flintstones-era hookup also lacks a pause feature or recording capability, which means that when I do find something interesting — say “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” — commercial breaks become timed Olympic events. It’s where I rush downstairs for a snack, check my email and then visit the little boy’s room — there’s that generational divide thing again — in under three minutes.

I’ve been assured that once Google Fiber is installed, all this will change and my life will be simpler. The 19-inch Motorola has a cable input but isn’t built to accommodate such cutting-edge innovations as DVR and channel changing by notebook computer.

I can’t say I’m excited by the prospects of a new TV, but I am keeping an open mind.

There’s nothing that says I can’t have the best of both sides of the generational divide, even if I know which side to call home.

Have a generational confession to share? Write the Department of Old School Affairs at davidknopf48@gmail.com.

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