As America mourns the loss of legendary senator Ted Kennedy, I can't help but marvel over the way that technology has affected the way we mourn his passing, and the generational gap this difference illustrates.
For example, here is how the news played out in my personal Millennial sphere of influence:
7:30am >> Usual morning routine: Roll over in bed, grab BlackBerry. The co-host of my Variety show, "Wilshire & Washington," Teresa Valdez Klein, has emailed at 3am: "We'll obviously have to address the passing of Senator Kennedy, which is all over Twitter."
7:32am >> I groggily yell to my pal and fellow journalist, Eric, who I'm visiting in DC this week: "Ted Kennedy died."
7:34am >> Eric is on his iPhone reading tweets, checking BlackBerry emails from colleagues, while he puts on the cable news shows. We debate which network will have the best coverage, and wind up sticking with Morning Joe.
7:37am >> Pouring over my Twitter feed, I am moved by the commentary that's rolling in and my faith in the masses is reaffirmed when I discover that Ted Kennedy is #2 trending topic.
8:30am >> I realize this is way beyond the comprehension of my generation when I read Meghan McCain's five-part Twitter commentary:
"I just heard about Sen. Kennedy, it is so incredibly sad especially given that my memories of him are that of a politician who reached
"across party lines. something that is painfully missing in todays politics. I remember his voice more than anything the times we met
"being larger than life and booming. My thoughts and prayers to his family.
"I fear politics without politicians that reach across party lines when it is necessary and important. Anyone that want's to know why Sen.
"Kennedy is such an American legend. Read his speech at the 1980 convention after conceding to Jimmy Carter."
8:35am >> I text message my dad and say: "Teddy Kennedy's death is overwhelming. What an American life. Did you vote for him in 1980 primary?" (He says he can't remember, btw, and assures me he will tell the players of the college football team he coaches in San Diego what an important day it is in history.)
9:00am >> A friend Gchats me and asks if we should email a former Kennedy staffer we both know and express our sympathies, even though we have all parted ways politically. We concur that we must re-evaluate what matters and do the right thing. We start an email chain and have begun rebuilding our relationship with this person.
9:15am >> A friend from Blue State Digital sends me a Teddy Kennedy graphic, which I make my Facebook profile picture for the day.
10:30am >> I host "Wilshire & Washington" with Teresa and conservative new media strategist David All. Teresa and I ask our listeners to consider whether American dynasties will be the same going forward? Will it mean something different in our era? Non-traditional families with two Mommies, the "Outliers"-style effects of civil rights policies in the last four decades could mean the good old boys club is dismantled and power is more accessible. Or are we having Obama post-racial Internet-is-the-great-democratizer puppy eyes and this is impossible?
11:30am >> I meet Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post and explain to him the series of events that have happened this morning, and how my generation is mourning differently. He says the contextual difference, having grown up when Jack and Bobby were alive, is immeasurable and I'm sad that I wasn't around then to experience it.
2:30pm >> I write for CauseCast.org and HuffPost, exporting these thoughts to an entirely different crowd and connecting with people outside my immediate sphere.
Something about this progression of events is fleeting. I'm such a full-fledged member of the Obama generation and the new political netroots movement. It feels like we lost more than the Lion of the Senate today, but an entire way of conducting business and life.
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