As I get older, one of the more amusing aspects of following technology and politics is seeing various enthusiastic young people tout something they’re claiming is a new and exciting change in “the way things are done.” The reason it’s amusing is that what they’re touting isn’t new, it’s often quite old.
About a month ago, I was looking through various technology videos and blogs, and one well-known YouTuber was toting a “great new idea” for gamers. The basic idea was you bought this box which consisted of a video and network cards, hooked it up to your computer, and, for a monthly fee, your processor intensive game would be run on this company’s server system. This way, you wouldn’t have to invest in very expensive gaming computers. My thoughts on it? Well, first, that it required serious broadband to your house to work. Second, that it was simply a “thin client,” and thin clients have been around for decades. His new and exciting thing was basically the latest edition.
The reason I was reminded of that video was a tweet this week from one of the newest members of Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She tweeted that she had been making phone calls to constituents who had been bringing problems to her staff. All well and good, right? But what was eye-rolling on my part was the reactions to it. A lot of people started tweeting how this was the first time a Representative had done this, it was a new model for politicians, and how they wished that all Congressional members would do that. To which, I, and several others, replied “Um…. they do, and have for decades.”
As I said in my post on the potential pitfalls for new representatives,
People have all sorts of problems they’ll contact their representative about. It may be veterans benefits, immigration concerns, social security programs, or any of the myriad other government programs and functions that people run into. Being seen to be addressing those problems, even if they’re not “of national importance” or advancing the progressive agenda, builds a lot of goodwill, as does showing up to listen to your constituents on a regular basis.
and pointed out that the reason senior members got to be senior members is that they live by that. She was doing what every other Representative (of both parties) do as a standard practice, at least, do if they hope to remain in office. Nothing new, although apparently a lot of younger people don’t seem to realize that.
Which is why sometimes they get upset when those of us who are older and have been around the block more than a few times fail to be excited by their new thing. It can be policy idea, a technology implementation, or something else that got them excited. It’s hard to be told “Congratulations. You’ve invented the wheel. Again.” Particularly if it’s true.