Baby Boomer: Is that really me?

Blog prompt: In our readings and class session over the last week we looked at Generations in the workplace. In what ways do the characteristics attributed to your generational group describe you? In what ways are you different from the characteristics? As you read, listened to the presentation in class or watched the videos, did you ever say, “Oh, that is so me” or “I don’t fit that characteristic at all”?
First, I’ll admit that it seems weird to say that I’m a Baby Boomer. It sounds so old nowadays. Before the label “Baby Boomer” signalled that one was on the cutting edge, creative, ready to take on the world & change it. Now it seems that Baby Boomers are often considered old, often out of touch, unable to adapt to technology, making retirement plans and checking out nursing homes. Sheesh. I now qualify my Boomer status by saying I’m a late Boomer (meaning that I was born late in this trend … not late enough to be on the cusp of Gen X, but not early enough to be a typical Boomer). Truth be told, however, I do have a lot in common with Boomers … I expected to go to college. It didn’t really seem like an option; rather our parents talked about college as a natural progression in our education. Our parents were typical of their generation: they married young (she was 19, he was 20) and by the time she was 26, she had four children. Because they saw the benefits a college education could offer, they did encourage us to go to college even though they hadn’t been themselves.
Okay … back to what I have in common with Boomers: an understanding of the importance of a college education, the Civil Rights movement, the feminist movement, assassinations (yes, I do remember where I was with John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy were killed), flower children & hippies, the space race (yep, I also remember watching the moon landing), the Cold War, the Kent State shootings, unrest on college campuses, the Viet Nam War, the Beetles on Ed Sullivan, the Smothers Brothers, and Laugh-In. I learned early to question the status quo — landmark court rulings such as Brown v. Topeka Board of Education served as illustrations of the importance of challenging long-established practices. Late in elementary school and in junior high the war in Viet Nam began to really ramp up … we saw news reports and body counts every week on the news. By late high school, our President had sanctioned the break-in at Watergate leading to a loss of faith in our government. Like other Boomers, I questioned authority — but that was tempered a bit by being raised Catholic where we never, ever questioned authority. Oh, the contradictions all around. Like other Boomers, I waited in long gas lines during college, experienced double-digit inflation, and interest rates that seemed to increase every year.
Like other Boomers, when I entered the workforce, I joined organizations that were pretty traditional and conservative in their structure. Most seemed to mirror Weber’s image of an organization, though new companies, such as Apple, were experimenting with new organizational structures that were fluid rather than static. In all organizations, it was clear who the boss was and I don’t think I ever had the nerve to stand up to the boss. As I grew older, I became more skillful in presenting a perspective different from the boss but also understood there were ways to present a different opinion: Not in front of others (avoid embarrassing the boss) and only once. The adage, “You get one chance to share a different opinion with your boss. Don’t persist in sharing your perspective once the boss has made it clear that s/he is sticking with their opinion.” served me well…though I’ll admit it took me awhile to understand how to strategically manage a difference of opinions. Like many Boomers, I do consistently question the status quo. I want to know why we’re doing what we’re doing — and I’m even more adamant about wanting to know when what we’re doing doesn’t seem to make any sense.
Unlike other Boomers, I was a Latchkey kid myself and often relate to the experiences of Gen Xers. Both our parents worked — in fact, most of the kids in our neighborhood came home to empty houses (the one notable exception being our next door name whose Dad stayed home while his wife went to the office). Because this is what we saw all around us, most of us saw this as normal. Didn’t everyone’s parents work? As a result, my sisters and I learned to be self-reliant, we learned to get things done without a lot of adult supervision, and we learned how to manage our time (Mom always left a list of chores, things that needed to be done in the afternoon before we could move on to play time or even our homework).
Unlike the stereotype of Boomers, I’m comfortable using technology and am often an “early adopter” of new technology. I’m curious about the ways technology can support teaching & learning, about computers, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and email. I recognize the limitations of technology to be sure, but I don’t fear it. Sometimes I do find it frustrating (how LONG will it take to download this software patch?), but for the most part I jump right in. I’m not sure if this is true for other Boomers or not, but  I also try to remain open to the things those younger than me have to offer … people bring different experiences & perspectives to our classes, to our work, and to our social experiences. I’m generally quite curious about the ways others see the world, which I think has served me well. I admire the idealism of new professionals — it’s refreshing & energizing. Though like other Boomers, I think it can be easy to slip into thinking, “Just wait…you’ll see how things really are.” The voice of experience possibly … but for now, I like hanging out with the idealists because they remind me of the possibilities all around us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: