Talkin' 'Bout My Generation
Dear dad, I have so many memories of you: driving the tractor, packing your lunch for your work at the plant, summer vacations filled with cigar smoke and a map of the Smokey Mountains, endless afternoons of baseball on TV, and arguments about politics. I know you ran out of money and didn't get to finish college at Purdue (thanks for making sure I could go). You would have been an engineer instead of a factory worker. You kept up our little family farm by day and headed off to work the second shift in the city every day at 3. You and mom made a little farm house a home to the family you created.
What did I learn from you? What did many boomers learn from their dads? Do what needs doing. Never borrow money. Get an education. Always have a garden. Do what's right. It's amazing how wise you were in hindsight. Sorry you didn't seem so wise then. Wish we'd have talked more, but most of all, I wish you were still here. There's a few more things I'd like to ask...
We've all got a summer we remember right? A summer love. A summer roadtrip. A summer concert. Crazy times we're surprised we lived to tell about? As we head into the summer of '12, what are we looking forward to, and what are we dreading? The election rhetoric will get louder. The gridlock in Washington will get tighter. The temperature will rise along with gas prices and the cost of a burger. But what if we re-engaged with the "endless summer" of Beach Boy songs, road trips, and daydreams? What if we used this summer to review, renew, and re-invent ourselves? What if we decided who we really are and who we want to be - and made it happen? Perhaps by doing so we could re-energize America as well. So kick your shoes off and walk barefoot for a change. A new you, and a new us, is the destination.
For the first time this Memorial Day, there will be focus on our war, the Viet Nam war. To commemorate its 50th anniversary, special services are being held at "the wall" in Washington DC with 2000 Viet Nam vets invited. But how do you commemorate Viet Nam? How do you struggle through the memories only our generation can share of a time that changed us forever? Every generation has its war it seems, but to 70 million of us, Viet Nam is like no other. I remember seeing it in my living room every night. I remember watching the lottery, waiting for my boyfriend's number to come up. I remember as guys left, guys made it home, and the guys who were no more. I remember when we didn't just "occupy", we rioted. The vets came home - most of them - started new lives, and tried to leave the jungles behind. There were no welcome home banners, no small town parades, no big city celebrations, just quiet family rejoicing. Perhaps today that starts to change. Perhaps today we're allowed to remember and grieve and talk and laugh. Perhaps today.
Have you seen the newest site devoted to our generation, PBS' Nextavenue.org? It seems the media is finally getting it: we are a generation on the move, online, and engaged in big ideas - not just our own little aches and pains. Nextavenue provides news and opportunities for engagement on big issues that are important: health, money, work and purpose (love that phrase), living and learning (that one too), and caregiving. Huffington Post's 50+ section provides a more media-insired view of us and a few marketers are starting to get it. Did you know we buy three out of every five new cars? I'm ready to see some cool guy with a little touch of gray "movin' down the highway" - that might get me to the showroom.
Although our kids and grandkids seem to have been born texting and downloading - thus the term "digital native" - we boomers are often referred to as "digital immigrants". The term seems to imply we don't quite speak the language; we don't quite get it. Funny, virtually everyone I know has a smart phone, uses social media daily, does their product research and makes their purchases on line. At a recent Google+ web dev workshop I attended, most of the attendees anxious to get their businesses online looked more like me than my kids! They were tapping on Ipads and swishing across Smart Phones and asking hard questions of the Gen Xr in charge.
A recent article (http://tinyurl.com/7lk8yjq says it best: "Digital Immigrants Help Build the Nation". We Boomers are the ones with the life experience, determination, connections, and clout to take the next big thing and turn it into a viable business. So to all you digital natives out there, and to those marketing geniuses that think I'm writing this post on a typewriter, just remember it's the immigrants who truly build the nation.