Rest easy, there’s no silver tsunami coming, the catch phrase coined to describe the coming of age of 76.4 million American Baby Boomers. It’s not coming because we’re not your grandparents @ 50+.
Think more along the lines of a Silver Mardi Gras— Silver beads, shirts on, tablets and smartphones up.
We Baby Boomers are the offspring of great social changes, the Civil Rights Movements and Women’s Equality. We don’t march, we dance and it’s a lively beat; kind of like steel drums.
Years of formal education, from kindergarten to college didn’t teach us how to grow old and die. In fact, none of us mastered in the art of dying or its companion set– rolling over and playing dead.
Why would we? We’re having too much fun. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’re still vibrant members of our communities; that we’re educated, experienced and still have a little money to spend on tech toys and cool gadgets. Especially tech tools that make our lives easier.
Last week, I attended the Washington Post Live- Booming Tech Forum on technology and Baby Boomers that was held in Boston. The opening remarks made by AARP’s Executive Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Hollis “Terry” Bradwell III set the tone, when he affectionately spoke of the Etch-A-Sketch toy, as the “iPad of our day”. He got that right, it was! Other speakers, like MIT’s AgeLab Director, Joseph Coughlin spoke of age disruption as being “young not youthful” and had me thinking that’s the place I want to be.
Michael Cantor, Chief Medical Officer @ New England Quality Care Alliance spoke of technology for life, the coming of electronic medical records, wellness and longevity. While Geri Brin, Founder and President faboverfifty.com spoke of women entrepreneurs on the web, startups and growing up on the internet. Jeanne Sullivan Co-Founder of StarVest Partners spoke of the Startup Age in a tech world and they were exuberant with the very real possibilities of life @ 50+.
Representatives from two tech generations, Perry Hewitt, Chief Digital Officer @ Harvard University and Zachary Hamed, Designer, respectively Generation X and the Millennium Generation weighed in on continuing and protecting the Tech Age. While J.P. O’Rourke, columnist for The Daily Beast and author of The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way… And It Wasn’t My Fault… And I’ll Never Do It Again. Discussed what’s wrong with the Technology Age, a little too glad that he wouldn’t be around for the fall out.
With each speaker I became giddy with hope, everything reinforced what I already knew, that is we Baby Boomers are relevant in the Tech Age. We’re mostly healthy, vibrant members of society, still active in our communities, still making contributions and willing to volunteer to improve on this world. Why wouldn’t we?
We were born into a world with our eyes opened, sometimes pried and held open to injustices. There was no veil of delusion that hid institutionalized prejudice and discrimination from us. Instead, we viewed sweeping changes on our television sets– excitedly, we watched mankind land on the moon; and in horror, we watched a U.S. President be assassinated. Confused, we watched U.S. soldiers being killed in Viet Nam and shocked, we watched fellow American citizens being hosed and beat down because they wanted to sit down at a counter. It was a new world, full of social change and it swept us up along with it.
“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” with inter-racial dating, wasn’t simply a movie starring Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, it was our very real world being portrayed in film. I know, because my father has blue eyes.
So here’s the thing, there’s no silver tsunami coming; that would be too destructive. Think more of a Silver Mardi Gras with silver beads, shirts on, smartphones and tablets up!