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In the 1940s, a creative man in his early forties helped create the most devastating byproduct of human inventiveness.  When this invention was first tested, he said, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”  Although this man didn’t regret his part in the invention, he did worry – continually – about the affect on humanity and society.  His name, if you haven’t guessed, was J. Robert Oppenheimer, known as the father of the Atomic Bomb.

How does this relate to the topic?  Have patience, readers, and read on…

We spend a lot of time surfing the Net, reading blogs and articles, keeping up with the trends and what others have to say.  It’s part of our job, after all – staying “on top of things”.  Every once in a while, however, something comes along that we don’t want to stay on top of.  Something we downright want to squash.

Lately, I’ve come across a disturbing frame of mind in pieces of writing from people that use the Internet for a living, from individuals in areas of Internet Technology to those in Optimization and beyond.  Brace yourselves; it’s a doozy.

To be brief, here’s a list:

  • The older you are, the less tech savvy you are.
  • The older you are, the less you know.
  • If you want to know if your website is user friendly, pick somebody old to look it over.
  • If you don’t have a cell phone, don’t like to text and prefer to talk on the phone, you’re either:
  1. a)     old
  2. b)    out of the loop or
  3. c)     both

Let me clarify that “old” seems to be 50 years old and up.

It’s all bull hockey, passed around by “young bloods” that seem to think the Internet didn’t exist until they found it.  To assume that someone isn’t tech savvy because of age is not only ridiculous, but incredibly idiotic.  Let us look at some examples, shall we?

Timothy Berners-Lee: Quick children – who is he?  For those that don’t know (and didn’t cheat by looking him up online), he’s attributed as the creator of the World Wide Web.  An English engineer, MIT professor and computer scientist, the man was writing the Hypertext Transfer Protocol language, or HTTP (sound familiar?), while those that are now 20 something were still in diapers.  And, my goodness – he’s ancient.  This year he turned 54.  You can read more on how this “old guy” and the WWW started out here:

Paul Gardner Allen: Recognize this name?  Maybe you’ll recognize another: Bill Gates.  As the co-founders of Microsoft, these two blazed a trail for the computers we use today, as well as a series of programs that have made our lives so much easier.  At age 56, Paul Allen is “pushing the envelope”.  Bill Gates isn’t that far behind him, at a venerable age of 53.

Carol Bartz: You may not recognize this name, but guaranteed, the people at Google do.  This woman has worked at companies such as 3M, Digital Equipment Corporation and Sun Microsystems.  She was the CEO of Autodesk, and served on the board of directors for several high-tech businesses, including Intel.  As of January 2009, Carol Bartz became the CEO of Yahoo.  At 61 years old, she’s still kickin’ butt and takin’ names in the “tech savvy” world.

Liz Strauss: She has been named to the Top 100 Social Media & Internet Marketing Bloggers Top 100 Most Influential Marketers of 2008, the 50 of the Most Powerful and Influential Women of Social Media, NxE’s Fifty Most Influential ‘Female’ Bloggers and her blog is listed on Alltop Social Media and Alltop Twitterati.

We Still Have Things to Teach

The main thing I want you young bloods out there to understand is that, by putting us in the category of “over the hill”, you’re denying that we have anything left to show, give or teach.  Look – if you’re a fresh-faced 20 year old, trying to tell me that you know everything there is to know about social media and marketing, I’m just going to laugh at you.  Have a little humility, people; you’re blowing off generations that have “been there, done that” long before you were a sparkle in your parents’ eyes.  Here are just a few things you can learn from us:

  1. The phone is for talking, not typing.
  2. Friends are people you hang out with, have conversations with and enjoy their company, not a featureless, faceless board that drops lines in 146 characters or less.
  3. Clients appreciate respect; for that matter, most people in general appreciate respect.
  4. There’s nothing wrong with shaking a hand and meeting people eye to eye.
  5. Being rude, crass and disrespectful when you write doesn’t make you “unique”.  It doesn’t mean you’ve dared to “step out of the box”.  It means you’re being rude, crass and disrespectful.  To whit – an idiot.
  6. It’s hard to respect someone’s opinion when it’s based on bull.  Do your research, and don’t take everything at face value.
  7. When you “talk” (i.e. write) like you know everything, when you treat everyone like they’re inferior, you’re only showing how small you really are.
  8. Life does not revolve around how many words you put out on the Internet, or how often you sit in front of your computer screen.
  9. When you do use social media, keep your cursing and bodily functions down to a minimum.  As Rett said to Scarlett, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”
  10. Last but not least, if some of us aren’t tech-savvy, it’s because we don’t choose to be.  NOT because we don’t “get it”

How does this all relate back to the Atom Bomb?  Just like Oppenheimer and the bomb, Timothy Berners-Lee worries about the impact of Internet on society.  So do many others.  In fact, scientists are actually looking into the break down of how society interacts due to social media outlets, connecting through email and programs like Yahoo Messenger and chat.  To sum it up, they don’t like the answers they’ve found.

By refusing to listen to the lessons given out by us, the “old” people, you’re turning your back on what makes us, humanity as a whole, the fantastic society we are.  You’re forgetting how to actually talk to another human being and interact in this great old world.  All the things you hate about society, all the rudeness you just “can’t believe”, all the respect that you “can’t get”, is being brought about (in part) by what you publish on the Web.

Don’t be afraid to live a little, children.  Step out of the box for real.  Talk to someone with your voice, not through text.  Most of all, realize that the older generations really have seen a lot, and still have a lot to teach.