The Train

Kids- You Can’t Stop What’s Coming

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. 

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.

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21 Responses

  1. We are both right. Don't forget a lot of ppl with age and experince fail everyday! More so now then ever because age doesn't like change. I hear what your saying. Life is a two way street!!

    ~ Owen JJ Stone aka Ohdoctah

  2. Hey Stwo thanks for you kind words…I actually started following you on Twitter because of this post lolol. I love the handshake and look in the eyes. We are all learning as long as we are alive. That is the beauty of growth. I don't want to sound all spiritual and stuff, but it's true. I will be 49 this month and to think I was hot stuff in my 30's I didn't know Sh*t lolol. I just hope I don't become an ol salty broad chasing kids around with my cane. Oyy what an image.

  3. Ohdoctah, I get what you are saying… I agree age is relative and should not define us. Granted, some of the Gen-Y may have certain sensibilities that we don't posses, however when it comes to business I don't care how talented young people are they cannot make informed decisions based on experience. Age sometimes has its' advantages. The team I work with vary in age from 25-56 years of age. Sometimes, the younger writers just don't get it while my old timers are spot on.. of course vise versa applies here. I have to tell you age and experience have their place. Thanks for your great insight. 🙂

  4. Shelly you and I both know we don't need the “strokes”. We basically grew up with the Internet in it's infancy, sure there are many aspect of new technology I don't get but I stay current and read as much as I can. It's unfortunate that your lovely 26 yo doesn't see what a great gift she has in you. Working in this Industry (SM/SEO/SEM/etc.) you have to stay current in order to compete. Don't get me started on the Top 200 guru's. Nothing but drama, link bait articles without much substance. What we have been saying for years is regurgitated by them. You know how I feel about the “big guns” It's not the size but how you use it 😉 Thanks Shelly you are a rock star!

  5. In the end it's all about the individual. There will always be child prodigies that crush the dreams of adults. There will always be moments when you get to look and someone younger and say I told you so.

    Some people young and old can't stand the internet. My father 56 can run circles around me about anything to do with computers. He listens to current music and the music of his era. I listen to everything but country. Age doesn't define me as a person.

    The youth will always say your too old.. the elders will always say your too young. Young and old is relative. A 16 yr old is “old to a 5 yr old. ITs a game that will never end and you can defend it in a great blog post either way! Great read!

  6. Great insight! Much of today's youth IS wrapped up in what they consider to be innovation. The thing is, without the innovation of generations past, we would not be where we are today. The problem is, that the youth today has lost the values of those they consider to be “old” New forms of media can learn quite a few lessons from the past. A handshake and look in the eye is one of the most valuable forms of connection. we need to figure out how to parlay these traditional values and apply them to the ever evolving mediascape.

  7. Amen, sistah! Further evidence of why I do so adore you. This post was especially impactful for me as I have a lovely 26 yo DD, gainfully employed in the Ad biz who thinks that her momma is just wasting her time “dabbling” in social media – after all, I can barely sync my BlackBerry, so how can I possibly know what I'm doing when it comes to SM, right? She participates in training classes sponsored by her employer, who is a big agency, furiously try to navigate the waters of social media (and not doing a very good job of it – like many big agencies). What she refuses to acknowledge is that I know more about social media than just about anyone else she knows and if she would deign to spend even a few hours with me, I could help her immensely. Ah, the arrogance of youth. I don't know how to program my VCR so I can't possibly understand “new media” right ….. or how it impacts all the rest of the world of marketing as we know it.

    Another peeve: I regularly read blog posts, oft written by some of the “famous Top 200 Blogs in SM” group and appalled by the lack of attention to spelling and grammar. And, when asked about it, they pompously respond that they don't have time to spell check their work and, at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter.

    Really? My clients wouldn't hire someone who did shoddy work and they flat out insist on working with someone whose attention to detail (including spelling and grammar) is better than their own – after all, that's part of the reason they hire us, isn't it?

    I love this post, Gaby, and I hope that some of the young people reading it sit up and take notice. We are a generation of intelligent, ambitious, take-no-prisoners business people and, if they're not careful, if they don't pay attention to some of the “real” lessons we've learned and the “real” ways to properly conduct themselves and business, they might just find themselves without jobs, or clients. One thing I know is true – what goes around in this big world of ours without question comes around. And you definitely get what you give.

    Mwah to you, my friend. Keep shaking it up!

  8. Jahnelle I am not sure how you do it. You are one of those young guns (not that young) that has an old soul. Your work ethics are untouchable, your talent is remarkable, and your art of brown nosing is getting better. Who knows you may be ready to take over this empire. lol 😉

  9. Brian – thanks for the comment, but I think you did misunderstand. My issue isn't with “all” younger people. Perhaps if I had named names rather than making a general statement, you wouldn't use the word “stereotype”. There are quite a few of the younger generation with good things to say, who put out intelligent information, etc. I even have some of them on my team.

    My point is that, just because we're older, doesn't mean we're dead. Period. The number of posts going up stating things like “If you want to test your website, pick a mom, any mom over fifty will do”, is growing.

    Perhaps it has something to do with “kids these days”. If you want to look at it like that, of course that's up to you. But then again, arrogance isn't an attractive trait no matter what age you are, young or old.

  10. Kneale you are absolutely right… Then again I knew whatever input you would bring to this discussion would be valuable. With that said, this wasn't about Twitter since half the stuff on there has become a lot of noise but several articles out there on the Internet.

    The point I was trying to make is yes, we all bring something to the table it's just unfortunate we can't all do it with grace, humility, and most importantly for the pursuit of knowledge. In conclusion I will add one of my favorite quotes.

    ” Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.” Eleanor Roosevelt US diplomat & reformer (1884 – 1962)
    Thanks for your input.

  11. Hey gograhamgo I thought I had it bad… My hat's off to you counselor! I am not sure how anyone can stand all the texting that goes on. Maybe I am too old for some technology, but to talk to someone over the phone is always better for me. I like the warmth and laughs one can have over the phone including the humming and hawing at a personal joke.

    Look don't get me wrong I am not saying the new generation has nothing to contribute just stop shutting us out. Writing silly things like get an older (50) person to do your usability testing. Do you know what the largest group of users on the top Social media platform are? You would think in their late 20's or mid 30's think again all over “Slightly over 50.” 🙂 thanks for dropping by.

  12. I am SO a work of art… grace, humility, caring, endurance, patience (that's a virtue, right?), intelligence, compassion, meekness… wow. Oh… did I forget humility? And humility. Humble as they come. Teach me, oh guru. 😀

    Sorry, a little irreverent input …

  13. Hmmm… so let me make sure I understand your point.

    Sterotypes stink.

    Younger people shouldn't stereotype older people as clueless, over-the-hill technophobes. In fact, those younger people — who are all a bunch of arrogant, anti-social bullshitters to a man — should listen to the wise elders who recognize that their youthful ways are bringing an end to what made civilization function well!

    Which strikes me as not only stereotyping, but the stereotypical rant of “kids these days” that seniors have uttered since the dawn of time.


  14. Thanks for the comment, Liz! I've been following you since your post on “10 Reasons Readers Don't Leave Comments” and am just tickled to death. As for the blog, I can't tell you how passionate I am about my work, life, family and friends (maybe not in that order, but I believe in something).

    I love new technology, am excited about the future, etc. What gets me the most about all this is that young kids act like we have no reason to join social networks and not enough intelligence left to really know anything. Of course, we “old” techies aren't going to stop – personally, I go to as many tech conventions as I can – but the idea irks me. Plain and simple, ages and genders shouldn't matter – it's the work you put out that counts.

  15. Hey MotherNosBest Computer Geek? how can that be you are too old 😉 lol Bottom line is I am so sick of seeing all these pompous Gen-Y& now Gen-Z act like they know it all. Hey one thing is for sure one day when they are our age (if they make it that long) I am sure they will be complaining about Gen-Z lol

  16. I won't cheat and look it up save to credit “who ever came up with the phrase” – age is just a number. If you are an early adaptor, a forward thinking or even better – a forward doer – you could be 8 or 88, I don't care.

    Age is completely irrelevant and just because you're 24 at Harvard studying law does not make you an automatic candidate to revamp the Supreme Court.

    Twitter doesn't “do” anything and neither does age unless you activate your brain every single day. Experience is only good if you use it and add to it and integrate it with what you are faced with today.

    We can all name 53 years who were co-founders of the world's largest software development companies. Morever, we can also name a few 20 and 30 somethings who launched the three largest social networking websites on the planet.

    It's not what you have, it's what you do with it. And the biggest crime we can commit is not paying attention to our imagination.

  17. I' m with gograhamgo on the texting. Just like with anything else, there's a time and place, and it's not while we're talking – and, for the record, I fall into the “young bloods” category. Without the attitude.

    Many of the smartest people I know are in their 50's and older. For that matter, many of the nicest people I know are older than me… wonder if it's related…

    Long story short, we, as the younger generations, have a lot to learn.

    Liz, you nailed it on the head. Experience beats smart and clever any day.

    Thanks for the great post, Gabriella – Even as a young blood, I agree whole-heartedly with you old guys. 😀

  18. Amen! I've been considered a “computer geek” for longer than some of these people have been alive..BTW I'm over 50! Thank you for telling it like it is!

  19. I'm not young enough to be that smart anymore. It takes so much energy to be clever. Worst of all clever seems to put distance between me and the people I might be trying to show off to. When I gave up a little smart and clever, people around me got a whole lot nicer and wiser, and my life and my friendships got a whole lot easier.

    Thank you for this Gabriella!!

  20. I LOVE this post! I think that the “older” generation has a lot they can teach the younger and I think that society is WAY to quick to dismiss it. I could go on for days about this. I also work in a high school as a counselor and think that with all the texting that kids are loosing how to TRULY interact PROPERLY in social settings. Does that mean I think texting should go away? No. But there is a time and place for everything. Don't text while someone is talking to you.. it is just rude. And that..manners i mean… I definitely learned from the “older” generation and I think it is very valuable. Again, I love this.

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