Boomers: Trying to Hang On?

By Kevin Brown | Bio

Have you noticed lately the impact that Boomers continue to have on the world as we know it? Yes, the ‘Net Generation’ is beginning to have a growing influence on our world and the way we interact with everyone in it. But the Boomers are not retiring or withdrawing from being in action on the field like their parents’ generation did before them. No, the Boomers are choosing to remain in the game and to impact how life occurs for them and for everyone else. The question is, “Is this a selfish act by Boomers or one of generosity and possibility?”

Boomers (those born between the mid 40s and the mid 60s) have been the agents of change for most of their adult life. Whether challenging dress codes, music preferences, the Vietnam War, or the status quo, Boomers were and continue to be all about change. Of course, if change means upsetting established norms, then Boomers are likely to be found leading the parade. One can see their impact on each and every decade for the last fifty years.

In the ’50s, the ‘Cold War’ was front and center as was the end of segregation in American schools. Enter the ’60s with Rock & Roll, The Beatles, the Hippie movement, drugs, the first presidential debate, Vietnam, Martin Luther King marches for civil rights, the first heart transplant, Woodstock, followed by man’s walk on the moon. The ’70s are remembered for Nixon’s visit to China and Watergate, the introduction of ‘Earth Day’, home computers making their mark, Microsoft being born, eMail making its presence felt, DDT being banned, and entertainment milestones like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, “All in the Family”, and “Saturday Night Fever”. More great music in the ’80s with Michael Jackson’s famous ‘moon walk’ and Live Aid shows. Both Ronald Regan and Pope John Paul were shot in the same year, the Berlin Wall fell, CDs took over music delivery, and CNN came into our homes. The ’90s brought us the Hubble telescope, the first war with Iraq, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the cloning of a sheep, peace in Northern Ireland, John Glenn’s return to space, the launch of the first stage of the International Space Station, and preparations for Y2K.

And as this decade nears its conclusion, Boomers are entering what would normally be considered their retirement years, Will they be withdrawing? I think not! Boomers are choosing instead to find new ways in which to remain active, vital, and involved in change. They are choosing to remain engaged in their careers longer, although this may be a result of the economic slowdown across the world. Others are considering playing a new game, a game in which they continue to make significant contributions into their communities and the world at large.

Boomers are now embracing social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and My Space. You may say this is great. Now it is reported that young users are dropping out of social networking sites that their parents are getting involved in. How will Boomers remain significant without robbing the next generation of their vital role in shaping our world?

I am of the opinion that, while there may be a selfish component in Boomers wanting to remain active, the overall result will benefit society as a whole. Boomers have much to contribute to younger generations and to the challenges we all face. The key is in consciously choosing how they will “pass the torch” to younger generations … will it be by perpetuating a traditional top-down management style relationship or by creating a different relationship in which both parties benefit from what they have to learn from and offer each other?

The issue is no longer whether Boomers will withdraw from the game. The issue is “What game are we playing?” and “How are we going to play it with younger people?” Imagine what might be possible when Boomers and the Net Generation choose to collaborate in shaping the world of the future. The possibilities are endless!

© 2009 Kevin Brown. All rights reserved.