Is the Baby Boom generation dead and we just haven’t bothered to bury them yet?

The Economist reports this week in “As boomers wrinkle” that the first Baby Boomers, born in 1946, are retiring this year with the rest of this motley generation will follow in kind for each of the next 18 years. Oh, what a strange trip it’s been. http://www.economist.com/

There are plenty of accounts of how the agonizing retirement of my generation is going to kick the you-know-what-out-of-social networks throughout the Western world. I am not going to add my voice to this rising chorus. You all know the drill about too many of feeble us and not enough of productive them.

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Instead, I am going to lament about the “Dinosaurization” of the Baby Boomers. This is not an exercise in stereotyping, albeit all stereotypes are based upon elements of prevailing truth. And let me acknowledge right now so I can avoid the inevitable snarky comments that come when you write about a sensitive subject…yes, yes there are exceptions to every rule and every generalization.

Besides starting to retire, one thing is becoming more common for Baby Boomers besides losing hair and having their parts, yes even those parts, starting to sag, and that is that their bosses, superiors and influential colleagues are getting younger by the day. To which I say, “Get used to it. This trend is going to continue.”

What prompts me to invent the word “Dinosaurization” is that many of the members of the if feels good, sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll generation are actually handing the shovels to up-and-comers to bury them figuratively, and eventually literally. We used to talk about how our parents were stubborn, only to find out that many of us are just as…ah, resolute…as the World War II generation…what Tom Brokaw called the “Greatest Generation.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greatest_Generation

One of the chief ways that Baby Boomers are hastening their own collective demise as well as keeping many of them unemployable is their steadfast refusal to embrace new technology. The world is changing and yet many of our generation are burying their heads in the sand…and it is not silicon sand.

Ask one about reading books, magazines and newspapers via electronic readers and they almost to a person will wax nostalgically about spreading out the printed page on the table while nursing their morning coffee. How long has Norman Rockwell been dead? http://www.nrm.org/

So what are some of the most prevalent excuses that I have heard (please feel free to mentally add to this list) for avoiding at all costs social media, such as blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr?

● The most prevalent excuse, statement, declaration etc. is time, or the lack of it. They have too much to do and not enough time to do it all. They are already overloaded with information. They don’t need to engage in online conversations either as a reader or a participant. “Let’s just work on a contributed article for the trade pub instead.” How about re-prioritizing our time? What a novel idea!

● “It’s all a fad. Social media is hot now but it will eventually burn out. Why should I pay attention to what people are blogging, Tweeting or Friending? Do I really care about little old ladies who write about their cats?”

● “You just can’t communicate in only (Twitter’s) 140 characters. I need more time and space to truly express myself.”

● “Facebook is a waste of time. I just don’t understand what 500 million people are doing on this website.”

● “Do I really need to develop a list of connections on LinkedIn. I have a cool business card folder right on my desk.”

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All of these analog answers and several others I have heard in one form or another and at one time or another come from the crowd that arrived on this planet between 1946 and 1964. We are proud to have been part of the Civil Rights, Sexual Revolution and Women’s Rights Movements. We stopped a war and were celebrated as the Pepsi Generation. We burned flags, draft cards, administration buildings and everything we could think of.

We were rebels, man. We were activists. We were idealists. So why are these younger generations more instinctively attuned to a digital world? That’s just the point.

Does this mean that you really can’t teach an old(er) dogs new tricks? If so, then we just transformed ourselves into 21st Century dinosaurs to our own peril.

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