I know that I’ve written before about how lost I am in today’s cyber world.
Not only am I not able to use more that 10 or so percent of the potential of my laptop and my cellular phone, but I have very little idea of what TikTok (note that my editor changed this from my original “Tick Tock”) or the rest of the spectrum of social media are and how to use them. Just recently I was speaking with a friend and we were wondering where to find a reliable source of information that could tell me what type of security software is best for me and what we will need when we update our computers. This list could, and does, go on and on. I closely resemble my ancestors that lived in caves, marveling at that great invention “fire”.
While, as I wrote last, I am of the opinion that we “Boomers” are one of the most influential generations of our country’s history, I am well aware of the huge chasm of differences between us and the generations of our children and grandchildren. [Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 (57-75 years old) Generation X: Born 1965-1980 (41-56 years old) Millennials: Born 1981-1996 (25-40 years old) Generation Z: Born 1997-2012 (9-24 years old)].
Unlike the generational differences prior to World War II, there are, seemingly, huge gaps between us and the generations above. Let me list just a few that I can think of.
World War II for instance. While we weren’t alive then, World War II still had a remarkable impact on our lives, since so many of our parents, other relatives and neighbors fought in it and were effected by it. Today subsequent generations have trouble identifying the members of the Axis and the Alliance. To us, and to historians, World War II is, possibly, the most cataclysmic event in world history; an event that claimed between 30 milling and 65 million lives. It influenced the remainder of the twentieth century in very real ways. As I said, for subsequent generations, it is but a hazy footnote, if anything at all.
We lived with the ramifications of the cold war; “drop drills”, sputnik, Gary Powers and the U2, Julius and Ethyl Rosenberg and A-Bomb tests in Nevada and the South Pacific. Russian incursions into Eastern Europe and elsewhere, Cuban missile crisis. Now, like for World War II, these are unknown to our subsequent generations, when, to us, they were part of our everyday lives.
I suppose the biggest single event for we Boomers was the Viet Nam war. While this war divided America and was the root cause of incalculable rancor between us and our parents, I am unsure whether most of our descendants today could find Viet Nam on a map, know that there was a time when Viet Nam was two countries, or that 58,220 Americans died in that conflict.
Socially, we saw the introduction of birth control pills and the upheaval that caused in so many ways. Then there was Roe V Wade and move of abortion from “back alleys” to easy, medically supervised abortion on demand.
Politically, we divided our nation and promulgated an upheaval not seen since the Civil War. As above, we were divided on the Viet Nam war and that produced rioting on campuses and elsewhere, most famously at the Democratic convention in Chicago in 1968. But the shooting deaths at Kent State galvanized campuses throughout the US, shutting many down. Civil rights came of age with we Boomers. School integration, Brown versus the Board of education, and the Civil Rights acts of 1964 and 1968 changed and again violently divided this country. The rise of Black Power groups and others like the Weather Underground were the extreme examples of this division. The results of these and other social changes are still being felt today in the gay rights movement, in congressional legislation, in immigration, and in nearly every aspect of our lives and society.
Technologically, I, for one, marvel at what the millennials, et al have accomplished. I am in awe of the wealth of information available at a simple key stroke on Google and other sources. The ease of communication available to us, the medical and scientific breakthroughs that are almost daily making our better are the things of the science fiction comics of my youth. The downsides, and there always downsides to most advances, mean that the electronic communication has taken over face to face communications, which gives rise to many, often damaging, misunderstandings. I think that while texting is easy and convenient, we boomers often miss the phone calls and meeting with others to discuss issues and share feelings and experiences.
There is yet another present “norm’ in today’s society that teaches a terribly incorrect picture of how the world works. Our children are being taught that every one of us has equal skills and talents. Unfortunately for victims of this canard, there exists a spectrum of skills and intelligence that refuses to accept such things like the fact that although Dennis wants to be a major league catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, he discovered early on that he can’t hit a curve ball and needs to move on to something else he can succeed at. Or that he wants to earn a Nobel prize for his work in physics, the fact that he can’t begin to understand calculus precludes this as well.
I take great encouragement in seeing these newer generations challenge so much of what we take as gospel, but I worry about the haste to change without fully exploring the reasons for how things evolved to where we are today. I am so proud of the successes of so many of these people, but worry that because our educational system is breaking down and cheating too many students by lowering the standards for grades and graduation, that the gap between the driven and truly educated will be so wide as to foment serious discontent like that seen in the 19th century Industrial Revolution. I also am worried about the wealth gap and wonder if the dream of owning a home is dead for too many (maybe home ownership, in itself, is another dated and passé idea that Boomers valued).
In summary, I am proud to be part of the generation that changed so much, even while making so many mistakes. I am also extremely glad I am not in my twenties and facing the challenges society faces in the near future. I am also confident that there will be many gifted leaders and thinkers that will face and overcome the issues of climate change, wealth distribution, rising tensions between nations, and many others yet unknown.
Photo: Courtesy / Getty Images/iStockphoto
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