During a client workshop recently, the participants and I were talking about how different the world is now, compared to even twenty or thirty years ago. We were telling stories about life prior to email or the internet or 1000-channel-cable menus. I shared the fact that my kids have hardly ever seen a commercial because the television we allow them to consume is all streaming.
And then I told a story that I had not thought about in a long time, a story about my father and me. After I told the story, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So when I woke up this morning, with the story still on my mind, I decided I needed to share it here.
I don’t like to overshare about personal issues in this blog, but the story requires this context: my father, who passed away in August 2009, and I were not close. It was complicated in many ways, as many parent-child relationships are, and we drifted far apart as I got older. In fact, when my father died, I had not seen him in years, and I was actively struggling with the role I was going to allow him to play in my soon-to-be-born son’s life. I worried about it a lot. But then, as often happens, fate took care of the problem. My father died that August and my son was born later that same year, in November. Life goes on.
So, let me take you back to February 22, 1980. Serious sports fans will recognize that date immediately. The Winter Olympics were in Lake Placid, NY, and in addition to athletes like Eric Heiden, America had noticed a group of young hockey players with a hard-ass coach. The team unexpectedly made the medal round, and were set to play the Soviets that night. My Dad and I were not big hockey fans, but we both loved the Olympics, and we were excited to watch that game. The game was broadcast at 8pm, but what we did not know at the time was that the game had actually been played already, at 5pm. We watched it on tape delay, but thought we were watching it live. We cheered and screamed and high-fived and hugged as the USA upset the Soviets 4-3, thinking the whole time we were living the game in real time.
The point of the story in the workshop was that it demonstrates how different the world is today. That story would never, ever happen now. Because of cable TV, smart phones, news alerts on your phones, friends texting about news in real-time… there is really no way we could have watched that game without already knowing the result. But we were living inside an information bubble that no longer exists.
We can draw all sorts of implications from the changes that this story reveals. But we can leave the specifics of those changes to another post… this post is already long enough.
For now, let’s just say that while talking about how much the world of communication and information has changed in my lifetime, I recalled a story about a father and a son and a historic game. It is, without question, the happiest memory I have of my father.
Have a great day.
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