Old Money: Reinventing the Fundamentals

As Paris reopens, I encounter more people from abroad. It’s refreshing for the most part, but tinged with a little dread: summer is here. Tourists are here, but hardly in the numbers of years past. Yes, I’m happy the pandemic has subsided. Still there is that sigh, that ennui that is so French: the interlude in which we residents had this little jewel box of a city to ourselves has concluded.

Part of this realization came the other day as I loitered near a newsstand. Two young Americans swirled a small carousel and fingered the postcards on offer. “Maybe this one…” said one girl. “Yeah, or you could just take a picture and send it on your phone,” said the other. “Yeah, I’ll do that.”

And away they went.

I watched them go, then waited for the traffic light to change. Then I did that usually frightening ‘calendar math’ and realized that the two young girls in question had never known a time when the internet did not exist. They had no first had experience of anything other than living in a digital age.

Maybe I had had this realization before, but now I realized it was an entire generation of young people. They would lose perhaps, as was noted by a character in ‘Inherit The Wind’, the charm of distance as technology continues to bring us closer and connects us all, whether we want to be connected or not. So accustomed to the instantaneous, they might never consider the rushing bloom of joy that fills a heart when an unexpected piece of mail arrives from a foreign shore.

As they fingered those postcards with calculation–weighing what would be more convenient?–they missed the possibilities. What would someone far away think and feel as they fingered a stamped, worn, but colorful card with a handwritten note about Paris? Rather than having a keepsake to tape onto their mirror, they would instead have another photo on their phone. Oh joy.

I grew up in a far more tangible and deliberate time. Things, of course, were written on paper and mailed using the postal service. Telephones sat on tables or desks. I remember being suspicious when cordless models were offered, thinking, my god, people will be just walking all over the house having a conversation on the phone. It will be chaos. How prescient I was.

I know that Aristotle had similar laments, certain as he was that the younger generation was idiotic and incompetent, and that the entire world was going to hell in a hand basket. Every generation thinks that.

I don’t go that far. I’m optimistic, but I am wary and concerned about some things: how do we make Old Money fundamentals stick and stay in a cut and paste/cancel and delete world? I am not the first thinker to worry about the fluid, transient, impersonal, and impermanent nature of technology. Its characteristics cannot be absorbed by people without influencing people: convenience corrupts.

Can reading an ebook about Core Values on your electronic device still deliver the enduring impact required to change lives and maintain standards?

Or are we required to return to formats and forums that are more traditional? More brick and mortar? More person to person?

As I think about these things, and as the world opens up, I feel less certain and more driven to reach more people.

I’m just not sure how I’m going to do it.

  • BGT

 

 


12 thoughts on “Old Money: Reinventing the Fundamentals

  1. Old money values are enduring values. Technology changes, fashion changes, but old money values have stood the test of time for many generations, and in some cases, centuries. OMGs will adapt to the changing environment, but I do not believe they will lose the core values of the old money way of living.

  2. I was born several years after, Leave it to Beaver began airing. I missed, even when I was a bit older and there were re-runs. I’ve catching it here and there on a local channel that runs shows from the past, Mayberry, M*A*S*H*, Gomer Pyle, etc. I had a revelation that this is the kids and the family before the boys go off to college (pre-Animal House). I find the lifestyle and values of the show reflected in many of the OM philosophies. And I remember how much the show was mocked and hated by many people in the years after it stopped airing but I believe even more people loved it and would live like that if they could. I think it can be difficult to be ‘old fashioned’ these days. difficult but not impossible.
    I read an interesting quote the other day, ‘To the barbarian, virtue is a blemish.’. Many people are yearning for, and turning back to, the slower- traditional ways of life and being mocked and hated for it by those who wish to only go as far and as fast as possible. There is a woman at church who sends out notes and cards to people periodically. I have been a happy recipient of some of those notes and they are a joy to find nestled in the mail box among bills and advertisements.
    Should we start a writing revolution? Maybe each of us can write a note to five people? Tell them in the note what we are doing and encourage them to write to five people also?
    Whether or not the OMG joins me, I think I will sit down and do this today. Flags up! (On the mail box at least.).

    1. As I re read Essential manners for men by Peter Post (for middle class and middle class reachers) and Class: A guide through the American status system by Paul Fussell it illuminates that each class has it’s own accepted values and rules of conduct. Changing the class a person is born into is almost futile because the people a person has associated with will pull them back down or pull them up to the class they are familiar and comfortable with. How a person speaks what they purchase and how they spend their time are all indicators of the class a person is born into.

  3. That was a thought provoking post Byron. Thank you for sharing.

    My instant reaction was to think poorly of the American tourists. Isn’t taking a photo of that postcard a kind of theft?

    Regardless, here’s a more considered position on this:

    Case Study #1
    Last week, I had a business meeting and the man at the table with me was 5th generation old money. He was young, urbane, well dressed and connected to the world with his cell phone. He works in technology.

    Case Study #2
    I think of those Magnificent Men https://thethinkingwasp.wordpress.com/2019/11/24/magnificent-men/. In this one article, you can see how we take up, even develop, new technology. Watch the two videos in that post and your reader will appreciate my point.

    Old money doesn’t have to be some stuffy technological time warp. Old money can be deployed and reinvested to create the tools of the future.

    1. I don’t see where they were discussing taking a pic of the card. I think they meant of the tourist site. They woudl take their own photo and send it.

  4. Melissa, that is a lovely idea! I’ll take you up on it. Re: Leave It to Beaver, you make a very interesting point. While I grew up in the 1970s and 80s, had long rocker hair, played guitar in high school bands,and my mother worked outside the home, otherwise my upbringing and family were very much like Leave It to Beaver and other TV series from the 1950s and 60s (Father Knows Best, Ozzie ad Harriet, and The Donna Reed Show among others. I knew there had to be others out there.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

    1. My childhood was very similar to LitB. In that particular episode they were dealing with reading vs. watching a movie for a book report. Of course being pro-book.
      I would be interested in knowing how your experiment goes.
      Best regards,
      Melissa

  5. I have been thinking a lot about this topic too. Technology has become a huge part of everyone’s life and an even greater part since the pandemic began. These trends are likely to accelerate, not dwindle. However, if the future holds that people don’t read physical books does that mean we cannot have classic libraries/book shelves? If other people dress in lazy modern trends does that mean we have to? And if our mutual funds become bloated with tech stocks and cryptocurrency does that mean have to change our way of life? I say no. In fact, these timeless values will grow scarcer and be even more valued as time goes by. We must not be afraid to be alone with our values and way of life. It is part of this road less traveled. It is also something that others will see and be inspired by as they hunger for a romantic era that focuses on tradition over trends and freedom of thought over cancel culture. I embrace technology….but I limit its effect on my life so as to not lose touch with something more permanent.

  6. There was a time at the peak of the pandemic when I was doing 15-20 hours of Zoom meetings a week and it was exhausting. As a result, I switched to phone calls as much as possible. Now I’m meeting people in person again and it has been great! Zoom and Microsoft Teams have forever changed how we do business.

  7. On your question regarding “Can reading an ebook about Core Values on your electronic device still deliver the enduring impact required to change lives and maintain standards? Or are we required to return to formats and forums that are more traditional? More brick and mortar? More person to person?”

    I believe multiple communication channels is key to getting through to the most people. For example, Tim Ferriss has his books, a blog, a “Five Bullet Friday” weekly email, his podcast, social media channels and many YouTube videos. It’s way too much content to absorb, and I only consume a tiny bit of it. All reinforce and amplify each other and enable him to operate at mass scale to stay top of mind. It would be extremely interesting to hear a podcast with you discussing Core Values with other people. I would love to see you in a video in a park or at one of your favorite cafes in Paris sharing your thoughts on Core Values.

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