Humor – A Boomer’s Story

Humor – A Boomer’s Story: This definitely falls under the category of “A picture is worth a thousand words.” I found this while browsing Flickr; it was uploaded by loungelistener with the name “Al’s Hat.

Al is our head prop man at the theatre. It seems lately that it’s always one thing after another in his life. Today John (our head carpenter and my best pal) and I had to do a work call at noon. While at lunch, he and I recalled Li’l Abner and the guy Joe Btfsplk, and thought that fit Al lately… one thing led to another, and this hat was born. John helped me round up the parts (and modelled it for this photo with appropriate pout), and I constructed it. Some cardboard, cotton batting, 3M spray adhesive, black & grey spray paint, an old hat, and a coat hanger to hold the cloud up. …oh, and some fishing line for the dangling raindrops too.

View loungelistener’s map

Taken in (See more photos here)

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Boomer Humor? Maybe not…

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Yesterday, I received an e-mail newsletter from BOOMERING_jaLouthain that said the following:

A few weeks ago, I was watching an episode of that crazy TV show Boston Legal. The law firm, Crane, Poole & Schmidt, was defending a radio “shock jock”. He wasn’t a very young man, maybe in his late 30s, and he had made a statement on the air that old folks (like Boomers) should “just die” before they cost the nation so much in social security benefits and medical expenses. The radio station had fired him because he offended much of their listening audience which was in the Baby Boomer category. Shirley Schmidt, (aka, Candice Bergen, the quintessential Boomer, born in 1946) defended him and he won, because the radio station hired him to shock and that’s what he’d done.

Despite the fact that I totally believe in freedom of speech, I was shocked–shocked to think that he had a point. Boomers have always been the darlings of society–pampered, educated, admired, envied, even patronized. But now we’re just old folks like every other generation before us.

You audacious Generations Xers, Yers, XXLers, and Zers! Have you so quickly forgotten that we’ve given you the Internet, video games, remarkable health care, excellent working conditions and infinite electronic and satellite capabilities? Now that we’re old and retiring, you just want us gone?

It’s true, we will put a tremendous drain on Social Security and Medicare, there’s no question of that. And don’t expect medical and insurance costs to go down until the last one of us is a flower child in heaven. But have a heart, “Younguns,” we still have feelings, and we hope to have a lot more years to live as your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. And don’t forget the most important aspect of all this: Someday you TOO will be old.

While this is being said in a tongue-in-cheek way, after the things that I have been reading in cyberspace, the comments here have a sting to them. I’m particularly bothered by the comment of the “things” that we have given as well as the comment that both, Social Security and Medicare will be nearly depleted. In all honesty, I’m not sure what to say or how to react. While a baby boomer will find it funny, the fact that we also brought a lot of pain to our children cannot be dismissed. Many of the articles and blogs that I’ve read speak of the pain caused by broken homes as a result of divorce. Other articles ask what will be left for them after we are done using up Social Security and Medicare and who is going to be left footing the bill.

I think that it is time for the Baby Boomers to look at the Generation X’s square in the face and say “I’m sorry.” Beyond that, I think it is time for the baby boomers to stop and listen to what the Gen. X’es have to say – they are , after all, our children.

Your turn to talk – What do you think?

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Generation Y – How do they define privacy?

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In my article Generation Y – Do they really hate authority? I talk about some points that the Generation Y makes on why they are how they are. One thing that stayed with me is the notion that they stay connected (read My Generation – Take Two) all the time. Although I hear what they are saying, as a baby Boomer I cannot even begin to fathom being connected all the time! Which leads me to my question; how do Generation Y’s define privacy? What does privacy mean to them? How is privacy demonstrated and expressed? If you are reading this, I would like your input – I am really intrigued and would like to know your point of view.

Here are some questions that I have:

  • What does privacy mean to you, how would you define it?
  • As Generation Y – in your mind, is there a difference between privacy in cyberspace and privacy in the physical world?
  • To you – how is privacy expressed?
  • How is it demonstrated?
  • When your privacy is violated, how do you react? Particularly in cyberspace…

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Generation Y – Do they really hate authority?

angry gen yThis article is a follow-up to Generation Y – Are they really as bad as we say they are? The information age and the information economy has flattened out the structure and hierarchy of organizations.  Gen Y is intimately in tune with this and, since they grew up into it, it is second nature to them.  The rest of us, the baby boomers and Generation X are definitely not there – we are in a different world from them.  One of the things that I am constantly seeing in the blogs and articles that I read about Generation Y is that they are constantly connected.  This is an important piece of information when trying to understand the “Gen Y’s” in My Generation – take two:

Generation Y is known to be able to multitask effectively. They also like to be constantly connected. So of course they are seen to be on the phones and instant messaging clients constantly, sending text messages, checking websites, etc. GenYers are information addicts. They’re used to knowing everything immediately and can quite happily be updated on several different topics while doing their job at the same time. They think, if I can still stay informed, and get my job done at the same time, then what’s the harm? Baby boomers come from an age of letters and newspapers. They don’t understand this information addiction, it’s like trying to do your job while reading a newspaper at the same time. So when GenYers are staying connected, baby boomers think they’re slacking off. Hey, admittedly, a lot of them probably are slacking off some of the time. But most of them are used to dealing with huge amounts of information at a time from several sources, and if they have to focus on one task at a time then they’re likely to get bored.

This is a very insightful and accurate description.  The information revolution, like the Industrial revolution before it, is completely changing how we relate to the world and each other.  For Gen Y’s, they have literally extended their lives to include cyberspace; for them relating in cyberspace is as normal and natural as breathing.  I imagine that they must feel very annoyed at having to explain to the rest of us what, to them, is something that is very obvious and natural.  Here is the thing that we, the Baby Boomers and the Generation X’s need to understand – the Internet has become the great equalizer.  Information is no longer the purview of a privileged few; the cat is very much out of the bag and information has been democratized.  This is what the Gen Y has to say about this (also from the ( My Generation – take two ) article:

Generation Y is said to have a problem with authority. This is probably true to an extent, but I believe it is more of a problem with respect. These days complete strangers will call you up on the phone and start chatting to you like they already know you. Back in the baby boomer days they were all about “sir” and “madam” and they’d address you by your surname, like “Mrs Jones” or “Mr Parker”. These days it’s all about “What’s your name? Robert Johnson? Well Rob, I’d like to talk to you about this amazing deal on cable television…” Everyone treats you like a peer. So Generation Y treats everyone like a peer. I think part of the problem is that GenX and baby boomers only see one side of it, they just see some young upstarts treating them like they’re on the same level before they’ve earned it. What they don’t see is Generation Y treating their subordinates like equals too. It’s not that they have no respect for authority, it’s just that everyone is the same to them and nobody is better than anyone else.

Although insightful, I don’t think the author goes far enough in explaining the authority situation of Generation Y.  While the paragraph above is correct, the basic issue is not authority per se but, something more fundamental and powerful enough to change a society, a culture and a civilization.  What is happening here is nothing less than a re-definition of what is authority and just how is authority derived.  Let’s define  authority in this way: it is our personal, individual willingness to submit.  In the information age, the “coin of exchange” is information and whomever has the must up-to-date, the most insightful information has the most amount of “coin” and Gen Y’s understand and respect this.  The underlying reality is that Gen Y’s do respect authority but, in their world, the one who is in authority is something that is very fluid.  Gen Y’s understand at a very gut and instinctive level that submitting to authority is their choice and under their control – this is a direct result of the information age.

Information is the most elemental part of any society but, it is how we process this information that makes it useful.  It is that “we” that is important because Gen Y’s do this instinctively and at the speed of the Internet.  Their perspective is this – all information has the same value and, by extension, all information givers have the same value.  It is only after “I” make some choices about the information that it will acquire additional value for me.  Gen Y’s take this empowerment process and project it to every aspect of their lives.

For us Baby Boomers and Generation X’s, it behooves us to understand this if we want to help them to sort out the difficulties of life.

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Generation Y – Are they really as bad as we say they are?

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In my blog A TIME OF PONDERING – A TIME OF RECKONING I comment on the level of resentment towards baby boomers that I’ve found in the blogosphere. In that post I mentioned that I had no clue that generation X’ers as well as Generation Y’ers resented us so. I am fairly intrigued by this and as I dig deeper into these attitudes, I’m finding that the resentment seems to go in both directions. In the blog Generation Y, the author (kfulljames) lays out fairly clearly some of the reasons for the attitudes and beliefs of the “Gen Y’s” and Steve Olson in his article A Message to Baby Boomers and Generation X puts the responsibility of the attitudes of Generation Y squarely in the shoulders of the Baby Boomers and the Generation X.

As I read the ‘Generation Y’ article, I can’t help but think that these kids have a point! First, the “loyalty” that we are talking about is very much present in Generation Y – the difference is that they invest their loyalty in those things and people that will be in their lives for the long run. From what I could gather in the articles, it looks like for Generation Y loyalty is given first and foremost to the family. That loyalty extends itself to a very old saying, “to thy own self be true.” In their minds, being true to themselves encompasses the workplace and the value they bring to the business.

Generation Y rightly states that they grew up seeing how the loyalty given to the business institution was rewarded by lay-offs, by sending the jobs over to another country, by raiding the retirement funds and depleting them. In other words, the business institutions expect the individual to be loyal to them but they do not give any loyalty in return beyond the paycheck of the latest pay period. We are the ones that need to understand that Generation Y is the spearhead generation of the information age and the information economy. They are doing what our great-great-grandparents did when the industrial revolution got into full swing – they are creating! Generation Y talks in terms of being a contractor rather than an employee, having multiple income streams rather than one company paycheck; forgive me for pointing out the obvious but, isn’t this what we usually call entrepreneurial spirit?

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A TIME OF PONDERING – A TIME OF RECKONING

Dennis Prager, one of America’s most respected thinkers, wrote wrote an article in Jewish World Review titled Baby Boomers owe America’s young people an apology. This article is a group apology for what we Baby Boomers have put the younger generation(s) – our children – through. In his blog, Dennis Prager, Baby Boomers, and the Signpost to Hell, Ben Bateman adds divorce to the list of things that we should apologize for. To be sure, both articles make for interesting reading and gives much food for thought. I admit that I am fairly new to blogging and when I surf the web for ideas to blog about, I am amazed at the amount of resentment I see towards the baby boomers by the younger generations.

You can see an example of this resentment in Boomers set to retire; the rest of us set to hear about it. Check out the reformated art on the AARP magazine cover and, what is most telling – the ‘Filed under’ categories (Filed under:Baby Boomers, We’re so sick of you, please die). At first, I thought that I had just stumbled upon a small group of disaffected youngsters but, as I have continued to surf about Baby Boomers, it is clear that this feeling is quite pervasive and I am sorry to say that I had no clue at all! As I ask myself what does all this mean to me, I realize that I have children in their twenties and thirties and I don’t really know if they resent me for being a baby boomer. Even if it is right, it is still a very sobering thought to realize that your whole generation is resented and blamed for many of the social problems we have today.

I’m a guy, and as a guy, my brain is screaming “What do I do?! I gotta fix it! How do I fix it?!” The truth is, the more I think about this, the more it resonates within me. My sense is that more than being selfish, immature and not wanting to grow up; the resentment speaks to something deeper and more fundamental. Each generation has a duty and a responsibility to pass on a legacy to the next generation; more than just a legacy, it is a covenant between generations, between parents and children. The resentment may very well be the younger generation’s way of trying to tell us that they feel that we have broken covenant with them and left them to fend for themselves.

If this is the case, we owe them more than just an apology, we owe them the relationship that they had a right to expect from us and we never gave them. We owe them the moral plumb-line that we were supposed to be for them and they never had or never saw in us. We owe them the love they had a right to expect simply for being our children and the next generation. In one word, we owe them ourselves.

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What happened to privacy – Part II

Here are some additional thoughts concerning privacy, you can read the first part “What happened to privacy?” and you can check the blog from Elias Bizannes that inspired my own blogs “Define Privacy – what does it mean to you?

Part of the discussion concerning privacy is not so much what privacy is but, how is it achieved. Before the advent of the electronic age and before the Internet, penetrating the privacy of something or someone required a great deal of effort. Before, to do this, you had go to where the information was.

Back then, you had to be fairly motivated to want to go to where the repository of information was physically located. There was a geographical separation between you and the information you wanted. Once you arrived where the information was, you had to be willing to spend hours, days and even months wading through mounds of documents to get what you wanted.

A great deal of the privacy that we enjoyed was achieved by the sheer physical and mental effort it took to get to the relevant data. What the electronic age has done is to take all that away. There is no longer effort or sacrifice needed to get the information you are looking for.

Parallel to privacy concerns, another thing that is of concern is the veracity of the information you are acquiring or divulging. With the deluge of easy information has come the deluge of false information and outright dis-information. Where before, the repository of information in physical form, whether implicitly or explicitly, gave a measure of weight as to the veracity of the data, today that is being lost by leaps and bounds.

So the questions become, how do we protect ourselves and those whom we care about from invasion of privacy and false information? In an environment where information no longer has a physical shape or a geographical location, in an environment where the information may be completely false, how do we protect ourselves?

One of the things that we are going to have to review and revise is our attitude towards information. Because of how information was gathered and divulged in the past, we have tended to give it a lot of credibility. Consider the newspaper and newscasts of old; whatever Walter Cronkite said was the truth, whatever the New York Times said, was the truth.

We need to develop what I call a “healthy skepticism” towards information today. We need to develop and internalize some level of skepticism about how the information was gathered, by whom it was gathered and how it is being vetted or confirmed. Doing that will go a long way to curb the explosion of “trash” information that is floating all over cyberspace.