But it isn’t really the decline of pop culture that’s at the heart of the premature grandpa’s bellyaching—it’s the fear of the technology required to capture new music, TV, and movies, and resentment about the rituals being stripped away by things like TiVo and video streaming. Being expected to stay up and watch endless real-time coverage of election results on TV instead of waiting for his morning paper. Feeling pressure to amass thousands of MP3s on his hard drive rather than fetishize a collection of box sets.

Peter Jacobson, an actor best known for playing Dr. Chris Taub on House, is a self-professed old man at 43. He was at dinner recently with “a bunch of twentysomethings,” and he was appalled. “All they did all night was take pictures on their cellular phones and send them somewhere,” he says. But lately Jacobson has pulled back a bit from the precipice. He recently asked the “kids” at work—people in their early thirties—to introduce him to some nifty new technology. And while his Grandpa Syndrome hasn’t quite gone into remission, he isn’t hating his encounter with the other side of middle age. “They taught me how to text,” he says. “It’s kind of annoying, but I’m starting to get the hang of it.”