Before I dive into my theories of my parents’ theories of how I earn a living, I’d like to take it back a few years for context.
I can vividly remember a moment I shared with my dad circa 2012 in Lubbock, Texas. It went something like this:
Jeff C. Neal and I walk into a grocery store, Leonard’s, near my apartment.
“I just became the Mayor of Leonard’s on FourSquare!” -me
“And where will that get you in life?” -Jeff
Jeff C. Neal is a baby boomer and didn’t (and doesn’t) understand the concept of social media, of posting things, checking in places, and the general activity of looking into the soul of a smart phone. And then he had me, the most millennial daughter you could ever ask for. hi.
While he’s right in that being the Mayor of a Lubbock grocery store on FourSquare is highly immaterial, he was wrong about one thing: Social media matters.
I love reminding my parents of this. Because I was almost not allowed to move to Dallas after college for a social media internship. Yes. Thank God for the family therapist. Thank God for the troops.
I was a big advocate of FourSquare summer 2012; I remember posting a
bold embarrassing Facebook status that said, “Everyone will be using this in a year, so you might as well start now.”
That summer, I stopped using FourSquare. Haven’t touched it since. Thanks for reading.
Fast forward four years later…
Picture it: Dallas 2016…
I’m currently more than 3.5 years into a professional social media marketing career. I earn an actual living using the very thing my parents scoffed at in my CoLLeGe DaYs. They’ve obviously made a full 180 in this area, and fully accept social media as a respectable, sophisticated career of choice now.
But that does not mean they understand it.
No matter how many times they’ve heard me explain what I do and how it fits in marketing, the concept is just completely out of reach for two intelligent, small town baby boomers.
Here’s what I think my parents think I do for a living as a social media professional
Install cable television
My mom’s Dr. Oz text really put the nail in this coffin. She can’t find her favorite show on TV, so clearly this is a social media issue, and I have something to do with this. It involves Googling the showtimes (which is what I did in response), which is the internet, which is social media, which is how I pay my rent, and I was a natural go-to for this type of situation.
I also just moved into a different apartment, and she was AGHAST to learn I did not get cable TV. HOW WILL I WATCH DR. OZ???????????????????????????????
P.S. My mom and I both love Dr. Oz, and I stole her Oz coffee mug and brought it to Dallas.
Upload movies to online streaming sites
The other day she texted the family group text about Netflix, Hulu, etc. The conversation had a tone of discovery, like she was for the first time in her life, grasping the concept of watching a movie without finding it randomly on TV. Like kids out there are DOWNLOADING THE NETFLIX, then CHOOSING their movie, WHEN THEY WANT. And NOT missing the beginning.
Like she may have even thought she was announcing this technology to the family text made up of 67% millennials (I literally did the math). I don’t know.
Anything even remotely involving an iPhone
Every family has that one topic of conversation that no one is allowed to bring up, because it always causes an all-out family fight. For my family, that’s many things, but on top of the list is Apple technology.
Things that fall under this category:
- My father’s apple ID and its long-forgotten password
- The long-forgotten email associated with retrieving said password
- Transferring Apple music from his year 1938 Dell laptop iTunes library to his iPhone
- Setting up printers
- Setting up the instantly-print-photos-from-your-phone gadget I bought them for Christmas last year
- Anything related to a cloud
We have gotten to the point where if anyone brings up Apple ID, iTunes, or music, my mom yells, “WE WILL NOT BE DISCUSSING THE BLASTED-ALL TEXT MACHINE.” Like if I accidentally talk about this new cool app I have, it turns into my dad wanting it, then having to have his password to download it, to my mom yelling at us to stop before we start.
They have this illusion that I can fix literally any IT problem with a phone or computer. I am the IT department of the Neal family qualified by the fact that I’m under 60 years old.
Cell phones, Apple ID, iTunes, printers, social media. Interchangeable words in my parents’ minds.
Ahh, the generation gap.