Exposing The Big Lie One Article At A Time

Hello Boomers,

Read an article this morning written by someone named deedee.  It was another in a long line of attempts to paint everyone in the Baby Boomer generation as complete technophobes, afraid of everything new and of all the wonderful things technology advancements can do for mankind.  Oh, please!

The author wrote the article much like a college paper, complete with citations from research, mainly from a Postman study published in 1992.   She (I am assuming here based upon the pen name) referred often to Postman’s research to make much of her case. 

Too bad Postman’s research is so dated.  Could it be that the information in the study would not be relevant today?  Seems deedee wasn’t worried about that because it helped make her case that Boomers are technophobes and because of that technophobia, they have lost their power and their relevance in the workplace.  

The author advises that:  “Postman’s theory of gains and losses is used as a framework through which issues facing the Baby Boom generation and its use of emerging text and communication technologies are examined. General attitudes toward technologies and specific motivations for and against the eventual uptake of skills and knowledge are addressed.”

Some 18 years ago, Postman opined that Boomers are “often unsure of the implications inherent in a decision to remain a technophobe or become a technophile.” Perhaps that  was, and even is true today of some Boomers but many have  incorporated and continue to embrace new technology in record-breaking numbers. 

There are many recent articles about the booming use (pun intended) of technology by Boomers and even Seniors.  We doubt that today the same argument could be  made that Boomers are unsure of the implications inherent in making the decision of whether or not to stay current with technology.  We know it is important.

Most Boomers haven’t been living under a rock.  We have been working in companies that have applied technology to everything.  Surely all of those tasks didn’t wait for the golden touch of the younger worker who would better understand the intricacies of  advancing technology?  It could be argued that Boomers have lived and worked through the highest level of technological change ever witnessed.  For the most part Boomers have kept up.  They’ve had to. 

Seems deedee values Postman’s hypotheses ONLY as it relates to Baby Boomers.  “Postman’s stance of weighing the gains and losses associated with technology is relevant when examining the impact information technology is having on Boomers’ lives. However Postman’s theory is perhaps less applicable when examining the relationship …Generations X, Y and Z have with emerging technologies. These generations have grown up fully immersed in information and communication technologies throughout their formative years—consideration of Postman’s gains and losses where they are concerned does not necessarily apply.”

So if I read this right, Postman states that the decision of whether or not to embrace technology can have a huge impact on gains and losses…but according to deedee, only for Baby Boomers.  So younger workers don’t have to choose whether to become technosavvy or technophobic because it isn’t possible for them to fall behind if they don’t stay current?    Really?

Then she calls us stupid.  “Becoming familiar with the various technologies now available, and then keeping up with the rapid evolutions of each, is overwhelming at best“.  Is she still talking only about Boomers?  Are we overwhelmed when we have to “learn” new technologies while younger people so easily absorb knowledge? Our nations multi-generational history of poor educational achievement scores would seem to belie that.    It seems likely that anyone, including young people, fall behind when they fail to stay current and once behind, it becomes ever more difficult to “catch up.”  

But she didn’t stop insulting Boomers there.  She goes on by saying that in order for Boomers “to embrace technology and the gains it brings they would need to overcome many of their negative ideas of how technologies impact our work and personal lives”.

She delineates our negative ideas about technology as: “A foreboding sense of impending dependence on an ever-evolving group of technologies, changing social norms associated with new technologies, the tension between continual availability and a struggle for ‘balance’, frustrating moments of technology-based inattention or interruption throughout the day, and Blackberries in boardrooms.”

Wow, deedee really believes things are so very different between the generations when it comes to utilizing and embracing technology.  We don’t.  Are we unable to leave our tech devices at home even for a few hours because we feel disconnected?  Guilty.  We have gone back home to retrieve a laptop or a cell phone.  We can’t be without either item.

Are we always available…even when on vacation?  Guilty.  We make vacation reservations based upon where we will have coverage and hi-speed to carry us through our “down time”.  We can’t, won’t be disconnected for that long, for any amount of time really.  We often catch more calls than fish while on vacation.   

Do we suffer from technology-based inattention or interruption throughout the day?  Guilty.  We must answer the phone, or at least look to see who is calling.  We read every text message as soon as it lands and often respond immediately. 

Have others been able to listen to our phone conversations while in public places?  Guilty.  Our kids and our spouses can, and often do, reach us anywhere,  So can our bosses and those dang telemarketers.

Has our phone ever rang during a meeting?  Guilty.   Many of us have had to sing our college song to the whole group because we forgot to mute our phones.

Do we take our Blackberry’s everywhere?  Guilty.  Guilty.  Guilty.  We even lay it on the nightstand.  We won’t miss a call, even while sleeping.

Do we know any Boomers who aren’t guilty of the above offenses, Boomers that might actually have  “negative ideas about how technologies impact our work and personal lives” ? Sure.  Every generation has those.  But the vast majority of the Boomers we know, work with, and have contact with have taken to technology just as hard and as fast as younger generations. 

Deedee advises Boomers to embrace technology to enjoy “increased efficiency and productivity, the ability to remain dynamically connected to others and to workplace events as they unfold, powerful new skills and knowledge that fits well with their hard-earned wisdom and experience. As technophiles, Boomers could regain their lost workplace currency.”  Really?  You think that is what is keeping Boomers on the sidelines these days? 

We doubt that’s the reason deedee, because like your generation, we also can’t live without our technology.  Stop mis-using “expert” opinion to selectively advance your case that our generation lacks value in the workplace because we are challenged by technology.  Stop trying to paint us all as illiterate technophobes.  

The perils of ignoring technology advancements is not new and has never been just a Boomer issue.    That big fat brush stroke you are using has been inaccurate for decades now.  Perhaps it has always been inaccurate for most of our generation.  It is one lie that we won’t let you perpetuate without challenge.

You can read deedee’s article at: http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept10/2010/10/03/boomers-winners-or-losers-in-the-age-of-technology/

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One Response to “Exposing The Big Lie One Article At A Time”

  1. LoveBeingRetired Says:

    Shelly, how do you really feel? 😉 Great points, good defense, and many of us falsely-categorized-out-of-touch Boomers applaud you. Although I will say that my 20ish old kids seem able to more quickly pick up a new technology, their old dad is blogging and twittering and skyping with the best of them. There are incredible efficiencies available with new technology and we are not afraid of it. Maybe we were in 1992, but no longer!

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