I’ve always heard that wisdom come with growing old.
Hey, look at Ben Franklin. He grew wiser as he grew old. When I was a kid, Ben’s sayings sounded wise to me.
Nowadays, I have my doubts. Old Baby Boomers sound cranky, not wise. As I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed every day, I’m seeing way too much grouchiness aimed at the younger generations, the Millennials and Generation Z.
Basically, the Millennial Generation covers the birth years from 1976 to about 2004. I graduated from high school in 1970, and my sister in 1975. So in other words, the Millennials are our children.
Generation Z, or the Post-Millennials or the Homeland Generation, is the latest generation. Researchers typically use the starting birth years that range from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. So you can see that there’s a bit of overlap with the Millennials. I see Generation Z as the children of the Millennials and the grandchildren of Baby-Boomers.
Perhaps Generation Z will in time become known as the Cellphone Generation. They are the generation most comfortable with technological change. The oldest are now in their teenage years. For me, privacy is of utmost importance. Not so much for Generation Z if what I’m reading is accurate. Baby Boomers’ grandkids grew up using the Internet from a young age. This generation has done much of their socializing on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
What’s the most significant current event in their lives? Not the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Many were too young or not even born when the passenger planes flew into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. What has shaped their worldview is the Great Recession. Commentators say it left them with feelings of insecurity and unsettlement.
I keep noticing a couple of ‘share’ illustrations that continue to pop up on my Facebook newsfeed, one in particular. It compares 18 year olds in 1944 to 18 years olds nowadays. In other words, the World War II generation, the men of the Normandy Invasion, to the Baby Boomers’ children and grandchildren, calling them crybabies and pantywaists. And who is sharing this particular illustration? Well, of course, Baby Boomers. Who do we think are serving our country in Afghanistan, Iraq and even Syria? Baby Boomers are relying way too much on sweeping generalizations. And to be brutally honest, many Baby Boomers have a bad case of amnesia when it comes to their own teenage years.
I use to write letters in my younger days. In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s I wrote letters to my maternal grandmother and to my mother. It was the way things were done back then. I wrote letters and I received letters, much like earlier generations wrote and received letters. In the late 1970s, I accompanied a fellow Civil War re-enactor to Cincinnati to check on some letters written by a Yankee soldier. My friend was considering purchasing any that included any personal information on camp life and battles. When it comes to traditional letter writing, I’m more connected to the people of the 19th Century than today’s younger generations. How things have changed!
Nowadays Generation Z kids barely need to write in cursive style. Instead, they can text on their cellphones or use email through their various accounts. I use Google, Yahoo and Facebook. For me writing letters is as extinct as the dinosaur fossils I’ve seen in museums.
In school back in the 1950s and 1960s, I used textbooks. Those too are headed the way of letter writing and dinosaurs. Nowadays it’s ebooks, laptops and tablets. Students today rely on interactive learning. I was an instructional developer from 1992 until 2008. I helped develop interactive computer-based training software for workers in the pulp and paper industry. It was a combination of traditional text, video and PowerPoint. It’s much more sophisticated as we draw closer to 2020.
When I see a Baby Boomer on Facebook having a hissy fit over the decision of schools to no longer put emphasis on cursive writing, I can’t help but start chuckling. It’s been a long time since I had much use for cursive writing. What am I doing now? I am using a laptop keyboard to type this blog post – not writing in cursive style with a ballpoint pen. In the late 19th century, kids made do with a slate and some chalk as they memorized reading, writing, arithmetic, history, grammar, rhetoric and geography. I wonder if early 20th century grandparents complained when education methods began changing in the 1920s.
Some conclusions from my research for this post? As we get into our 50s, 60s and 70s, it’s important not to get stilted in our thinking. When you retire, it’s easy to get bulldozed by technological change. There’s no longer a requirement to keep up with newer software because you’re not out there looking for a new job.
My final take? Stop thinking it’s 1970.
# # #
I’m an author with three fantasy novels to my credit – The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. The books make up a trilogy titled Larenia’s Shadow. A fourth novel, this one a historical romance set during the Civil War, is scheduled for publication in October. It’s called Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep. I’ve begun writing my second Civil War novel – Deepening Homefront Shadows. All my novels can be purchased via the website of my publisher, Wings ePress, as well as the websites of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.