I am a tweener when it comes to the conversation of old school vs new school. I remember rotary phones and then later carrying a folded up sheet of paper in my wallet so I could call back someone that paged me…unless it was just a code like MMA1 (meet me at my house) or MMA2 (meet me at your house). I remember NEEDING to have books as they were the only source of information outside my circle that was available to me. I remember need to have a good set of maps in the car and the ability to read them rather than typing an address or lat/long in to a GPS and blindly following the digital voice. I remember holding the ideas and writings of ‘industry people’ up as the gospel of fly fishing, and now having met many of them I can say that some deserve that pedestal while others fall short.
At 35 I feel like the bridge between the old school and the new school; I remember the last way of doing things but also embrace the new ways. I understand the broader context of issues now but feel the urgency to act now rather than wait. I am old enough that the old school still calls me a kid, mostly tongue in cheek, while we have a few fingers of whisky neat but young enough that I am not completely out of place doing shots with the next generation. I still like the feel of a good book in my hand but know that I can find more, and sometimes newer, information online…and that you have to take both sources with a grain of salt and a skeptical eye.
In today’s A.D.D. world of texting, FB, Instgram and microwave meals the younger generation expects instant payoff. Why in the world would they plan to attend a next month to talk about doing something when they can Facetime each other now and DO SOMETHING tomorrow? Who can be bothered to plan months out to go to a meeting and see a presentation on something when they can kick back with their friends find the same thing on Youtube? They are a generation that grew up on line and is more likely to get their current events from Moldy Chum than the local news. Sadly many would not know Joe Humphreys if he walked up with a smile and shook their hand, something that I actually witnessed with horror at a recent fly show, but would pick Chris Owens out of a crowd with ease.
I think that the disconnect between the last generation and the next generation is growing and is our own fault, but that can be fixed. I think the onus falls on us tweeners to bridge the gap. We have one foot on each side and so the ability to bring together the old and the new. All the advertising in the industry has changed to target the younger crowd and bring them in to the game, but the attitudes of some people already in the game involved remains a hurdle. It is not one generation vs the next…it need to be the generations working together to protect and grow the sport we love. The younger generation does care, is technically savvy, and could be a wrecking ball for good if they have the proper motivation and environment to put their skills to work. They do not want to be preached to, they want to be worked with. A little respect given goes a long way for both groups. Imagine what could happen for projects and initiatives with the new and old school working together. The guys from the old school have the contacts and capital to get stuff done while the new school has the means to quickly get the word out en masse and mobilize large numbers of people. Utilizing the strengths of the generations together would be good for everything from shows and conclaves to stream work and pushes for (or against) legislation.
I am not saying that a fly fishing kegger, as fun as that could be, is the answer to our problems but neither are the endless meetings. I do think we need a little more ‘What About Bob’ and a little less ‘Groundhog Day’ in our lives….baby steps and action. Both generations need to understand that the other has something valuable to offer. We need to leverage those skills towards a common goal of ensuring our sport is around for the next generation to enjoy. When it comes right down to it, it may take someone with a strong sense of purpose to take the reins and run with it. That person will have to have thick skin and respect on both sides of the fence to buck the trends and break the molds…pointing the ship back in the right direction.
Whew...writing is exhausting, let’s go fish.