Matt Haber at the Observer points out that Emily Gould isn't the first Times magazine poster child for a generation shaped by technology. Joyce Maynard played the same role in 1972 as an 18-year-old whose cohorts were "the first to take technology for granted." The technology in question was television, which unlike the internet did not make it easier to, say, tell a cute boy how much you like putting things into your mouth or otherwise flirt. But Maynard's story still raised Troubling Questions about young people's prospects amid the onslaught of modernity, as Gould's apparently will:
My generation is special because of what we missed rather than what we got, because in a certain sense we are the first and the last. The first to take technology for granted. (What was a space shot to us, except an hour cut from Social Studies to gather before a TV in the gym as Cape Canaveral counted down?) The first to grow up with TV. My sister was 8 when we got our set, so to her it seemed magic and always somewhat foreign. She had known books already and would never really replace them. But for me, the TV set was, like the kitchen sink and the telephone, a fact of life.
...If I had spent at the piano the hours I gave to television, on all those afternoons, when I came home from school, I would be an accomplished pianist now. Or if I'd danced, or read, or painted . . . But I turned on the set instead, every day, almost, every year, and sank into an old green easy chair, smothered in quilts, with a bag of Fritos beside me and a glass of milk to wash them down, facing life and death with Dr. Kildare, laughing at Danny Thomas, whispering the answers-out loud sometimes-with "Password" and "To Tell the Truth." Looking back over all those afternoons, I try to convince myself they weren't wasted. I must have learned something; I must, at least, have changed.
What I learned was certainly not what TV tried to teach me. From the reams of trivia collected over years of quiz shows, I remember only the questions, never the answers. I loved "Leave it to Beaver" for the messes Beaver got into, not for the inevitable lecture from Dad at the end of each show.
So for nearly four decades technology has been menacing young women. But it could not have entirely ruined them, because they've always had the good sense, apparently, to try and sound like Joan Didion.