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Boomers grip on tech

Brian Proffitt has an interesting take on the meme that you need to find a teenager to fix your computer. He explains his conclusion about Why Boomers Won’t Release Their Grip On Technology.

“Due to its size and timing as the dominant generation during the spectacular rise of information technology, Baby Boomers will continue to have an out-sized influence on technology use and innovation.”

“The way Boomers, which the U.S. Census Bureau defines as anyone born between 1946 and 1964, adjust the world around them is a big part of why they approach technology so differently from their forebears, the Silent Generation (1927-1945) and the Greatest Generation (1900-1926).”

“The Boomer generation is the first where work outside the home became so prevalent for men and women. The Boomers also saw the exploding rise of technology in the workplace just as they were entering their mid-30s and -40s. This is why so many Boomers are technologically adept despite not having grown up with technology.”

“Boomers are also less stingy than their ancestors”

Figure that the PC got going in about 1980. That means the Boomers were between 16 to 34 years old. They were the ‘teenagers’ being asked to fix the computers. They were the young professionals looking for an edge. The were the one that grew from child to seasonal professional right along with the development of both hardware and software. These were personal computers and that means that people using them were directly involved in their behavior. They were the ones who experienced the changes from manual to automated spreadsheets, the transition from a typewriter to desktop publishing, from command line to GUI, from film to file, from dial-up to broadband. They have direct experience with the way it used to be and the way it is now and were young enough when that happened so as to not let ingrained habits inhibit new experience.

The idea about the wealth of the Boomer generation goes hand in hand with the disposal thing that bothers so many. Boomers grew up in families that could afford toys and a lifestyle their parents could only dream about. Can you imagine a Grapes of Wrath style of poverty where the entire family packed up in one car that used sawdust as a lubricant in order to move for better opportunity? The Boomers might have trouble with that but their parents lived it, much as the Boomers lived the information age revolution.

The ‘work at home’ observation also seems to be going full circle, too. For the Boomer parents, it was Dad the money fetcher and Mom the home-maker — and both were full time and necessary jobs. For Boomers, it is the home office. The trade or professional work is being brought home and the home-maker work load has diminished to allow more time for other pursuits. Child raising is now concerned about helicopter parents and free range kids.

“Retirement is looked upon as an opportunity,” Riggs explained. “The seduction and necessity of technology is a big part of making that opportunity happen.”

We live in interesting times.

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