Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan recently wrote a column about her vision of "New America" versus "Old America." As in: Old America when life didn't work out: "Luck of the draw!" New America when life doesn't work out: "I made bad choices!" She offered dozens of other examples.
The column cut to the core of the great divides we are straddling. John McCain (old) versus Barack Obama (new) was another example. And while we can still choose which America we prefer in November, in the end, old passes and new emerges inexorably. Change is not a choice; it's our fate, individually and collectively, like it or not.
Those who embrace change, who utilize new technologies and new ways of thinking, are tomorrow's winners. Those who cling to the past — whether it's wearing that groovy ponytail into your mid-60s or driving a Hummer to the mall — might as well wear a sign on their forehead reading, "Out of It."
Old is the PR company (and they are legion) that employs a nervous young woman who calls an alt-weekly editor and asks if he received a fax she sent about a new cookie recipe. (Here's a tip: Nobody checks faxes anymore. Send an e-mail. And be aware of what kind of publication you're calling. The Flyer doesn't print recipes.)
New is the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, which gives every visiting journalist a tiny computer zip drive filled with 70 pictures of local attractions, facts and figures on the city, and dozens of quotes from local leaders. Instant story research and content, plus a free reusable zip drive. It's not just new thinking, it's smart thinking.
Old is the Hunter Fan Company, which offers no way to contact them via their website — only an 800 number. Old is keeping you on hold for six minutes listening to a recorded voice utter variations of "Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line, and someone will be with you shortly." Old is being told at last to leave a message "describing your problem." (The message I left was not printable.) Hunter Fan wasted my cell phone minutes and my time and lost a customer. An American company stuck on "old."
One reason our economy is faltering is that we are clinging to old thinking. Gas prices too high? We gotta find more gas! New: Who needs gasoline? We'll find a better way. And somebody will. And someday that too will be old news.