I don’t know anyone under thirty, which puts me at odds with the popular view of my youth that we were not to trust anyone over thirty. I do know, however, that generational differences make for interesting conversation.
I just read two amusing blog posts (Time Goes By) on this topic written by a woman in her twenties. Her name is Marcie Rogo and she’s started a business that allows residents of fifty-five plus communities to connect with each other on a secure website.
I enjoyed her ‘us versus them’ observations, which came out of her market research. In her first post, she focused on ‘paranoia’ in contrast to ‘openness’ when it comes to digital networking. As you might guess, those of us in the older generation represent the paranoids.
Rogo said once her private websites were available — for free — residents resisted the technology. They worried they would become victims of identity theft if they gave out their email addresses. She pointed out that many in my generation don’t mind having our home addresses and phone numbers published in a widely distributed telephone book, but won’t share email addresses for fear these will allow access to credit card information. Members of her generation, however, have given up any illusions that their lives are private and are always on the lookout for new technology. And, unlike my generation, they’re willing to put up with “annoying emails” to get it.
She said, “My generation wants to be on the cutting edge, wants to have the latest service that makes their lives easier.”
Rogo also sheds light on differences between young and old when it comes to professional dress, grammar, and courtesy. Some of her observations:
As a professional in the IT world, casual dress prevails. In fact, “the more homeless you look, the more successful people think you are.”
Her peers have grown up with spellcheck, grammar check and text messaging, none of which prevent mistakes. They forgive while people in my generation criticize.
However, there is one social custom from an earlier generation that Rogo yearns to experience and that is chivalry. She’d rather be asked for a date, have a date canceled, or a relationship ended by some means other than a text message. I’m certain that no matter how many ways opinions vary among women of different generations, this is one convention we could all agree on.
If you want a real divide – look to the matter of what’s polite. And for an eye-opening discussion, read Nick Bilton’s blog in the NY Times on etiquette redefined in the digital age. Be sure to read the comments, too (although since it flabbergasted enough people to write, you may not want to read all 500 or so of them).
I know far too many people under the age of twenty (=: I am on a long-term assignment at Bellevue High, where just today teachers reported on a visit to MIHS. Kids there have their phones out and on their desks so they can use them for research. “Don’t some kids sit around and text?” one of the teachers asked. A student replied, “There are always kids who will break the rules and text.” Interesting observation. I also enjoyed Martha’s link to the NYT article and must confess I hate voice mail. But I think the writer goes a tad too far.
I read the article and about fifty comments. I wondered if those who saw Jonathan Swift in it were right.