Opinion: Change happens
Free Press Opinion Columnists
He said: Our generation has become the older generation we rebelled against when we were young. Our eldest daughter, who works for an international company, told me that one of the things they are struggling with is how to align and organize the employees to accomplish tasks. Apparently there are significant behavioral differences between the Baby Boomers, the Gen Xers (those born in the 1980s), Generation Y (those born in the early 1990s, and the Millennials (those entering the workforce now). Management doesn’t understand the younger workers and the younger workers don’t understand why management behaves the way they do. I can’t begin to predict what the world will be like for our grandchildren. I do know that for us Boomers, the grim reality of aging is something we cannot convey well to the other generations. I know our bodies don’t respond or respond more slowly to our wishes. We witnessed rapid changes, leading to things that we never would have believed when we were 20 years old. For example, we could not conceive the Internet, flash drives, virtual reality, or many of the things that are now daily events. We thought the Dick Tracy wrist phone was a dream, but now it is marketed on TV. These changes are like a tidal wave smashing against our generation and our beliefs.
She said: I certainly see the generational differences when we are with our children. They text with the speed of light on many different platforms; they know how to take and upload pictures and videos; and they have apps for almost anything. They work at jobs that did not exist 10 years ago.
It is nice to have access to the Internet on a phone to find resources and services, and then determine how to get there. On the other hand, many young people do not know how to read a map anymore or make good decisions if they do not have electronic help (like when the batteries run out). Another example of that is the sales clerk who cannot place an order, add it up, or make change if the electronic cash register is not working. Prognosticators are predicting automated restaurants, where you make the order via the Internet, pick up your food at a counter, and pay your bill without even interacting with another human. All I can say is that a recent dining experience in India was less than satisfactory when the electronic menu was not working. At least they had hard-copy backups. What if they did not? Many of our generation are worried that children are no longer learning cursive, are reading less, and are not writing anything of length or substance. This is off-putting, but technology has made it easier to write without the physical act of holding a pen or pencil. You can speak words into the machine, and they are typed out. So maybe typing will no longer be a required skill. It remains to be seen what people will consider worth “writing” and responding to in writing. Some studies have shown the young are less empathetic and lack social skills. Should we be worried?
Maybe the problem of aging will not be the same for the generations following us.
I laugh at the young women who get breast augmentation because age has always been the equalizer; they will sag by 55 no matter what. But, maybe that will not be true in the future. Maybe scientists will find ways to ease the pain of arthritis or over-used joints. Maybe there will be a brain chip available that restores short-term memory.
He said: Well, my dear, change has come, whether we embrace it or not. As always, we can either resist or go with the flow. We have come to the stage where our major question is — “Do we want to spend the time and energy we have left to continue all those things that we have been doing in the past?”
A casualty of that thinking is this column, which we will stop writing at the end of the month. We’ve had enjoyable discussions exploring many issues the last seven years, but the column saps time and energy from the other things that make each day a gift for us. It is time to roll on.
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