I don’t know how generations think. I only know how my generation thinks, and they call my generation baby boomers. It’s a massive net that catches me, even though I feel like I’m Generation X – a punk and new romancer – but hey, marketing people need their categories. We have Gen X, Gen Y, millennials and now the iGen. We’re all wrapped up in a net of ageism. Well, screw it, I’m breaking this code.
This code is wrong. This generational code throws everyone into a class based on their age. My age is not my class. My brain is my class, and my brain says weird shit.
For example, I’m sitting by the pool today. Oh, did I mention the pool? Crap. Meant to leave that out.
Anyways, I’m sitting by the pool today and thinking about my dad. He fought in the second world war or, for short, WWII, and was a teacher. He died young but had a good short life. As I thought about him, I kept coming back to his Big Trip. His Big Trip was in 1968 to the United Nations in New York. We thought he’d gone to the moon. The furthest we’d been was Devon. Where the hell is New York?
He came back with his new Super8 Cinecamera and, once the film was developed, we watched extraordinary shots of dad at Niagara Falls and the Twin Towers. The Falls are still there, but the Twin Towers collapsed in 2001, some say due to an airplane flying into it. Whatever.
I sit here today with my eyes on the world, and cannot believe how much I fly. It’s a good, privileged life but, fifty years ago, if I’d talked about flying from London to Miami to Auckland and back in a week, people would have thought me mad. Yet, now, it can be done.
So, I’m thinking about my dad’s generation and how he travelled a little, but was mostly at home. The jobs available were limited, and he was a teacher. When I left university, my parents encouraged me to get a job in technology. Technology is the future, they said. Go work for IBM. And I did … for a while.
I ended up working for a number of American technology firms and I travelled a lot. I’ve been jet-setting since the 1980s so, unlike my dad, I have seen most of the world. I never feared a war and I never had to face up to an enemy. My life has been pretty good. Sure, I’ve struggled with money a few times – haven’t we all? – but generally, I’ve been blessed. How lucky am I?
As a baby boomer, we’re the ones who were given everything and took it all. We were given the Earth and royally screwed it twice over, according to millennials.
But how exactly does a millennial think? And how does an iGen think?
I have no idea, but I do know this. You cannot box everyone into a group based upon age. I may be a boomer, but I think, therefore I am. I watch our younger generations, and I worry. I worry that they cannot buy homes. I worry that they have no idea what a war is. They have no memory of such crisis. I worry that they have no concept of being local, as they were born global. The world is their village. I worry that they see things on TV and think it’s in their backyard when, for my generation, it’s a world away.
I worry but then I don’t. After all, humans have a way of working out their issues. We’ve been on Earth for 7 million years and I hope we’ll be around for 7 million more. We will work it out.
So when I think of my dad, myself and my children, I think … it will be ok. If my kids end up living on Mars or some other far off planet … it will be ok. It is because that is what humans do. We make it work.
Ah well, a slightly wistful post, but I just think that every generation makes the world better for the next. We are being accused today of making the world worse. We took all of Earth’s assets, consumed them and owned them and deprived the next generation of them.
I think that every generation, if they have children, give all they can to their next generation to make the world safer, better and stronger. And the stats speak for themselves …
Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...