The advantage of generational labels is that they tell us when a group of people was born. The time period often has characteristics unique to that time in history. The disadvantage? Generational labels are potentially divisive.
For example, baby boomers are a generation born after the war. They were a population boom! Boomers experienced The Beatles, Elvis Presley, and the introduction of colour television. The millennials are characterized as a group that has grown up in an electronic and socially connected world. They’re often described as self-centered and indulged. Whilst it’s difficult to determine the music that defines them, one writer suggests popularisation of hip-hop, the creation of Boybands, and the prevalence of Indie are amongst the music trends that occurred with this generation.
However, this is not about the definitive characteristics of these two generations. Rather, the purpose of this piece is to suggest that perhaps there are more similarities than differences between the two age groups.
Based on my own work with baby boomers it seems to me there may be some important issues where we come together. Education. Housing affordability. Work.
And potentially, the similarities don’t stop with these big social issues.
Baby Boomers & Technology
Whilst boomers are ‘digital immigrants’ they do use and embrace technology. Let’s face it: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are baby boomers! Boomers may not have been born with an iPhone in hand or access to the Internet, but they do know how to use it. And do.
They’re big on Facebook and active users of Google to seek information. And who do you think might be traveling the world using Airbnb and home exchange sites?
Beware though. Whilst boomers are active users of technology they are not all the same (in the same way that there are differences amongst millennials). After all, it’s a 20-year age span. Our conversations revealed that older boomers tend to be more reluctant to either use or have some of the technology available – including mobile phones. You’re also less likely to find an older boomer on social media. And, when I say older, I mean someone in their late 60’s or early 70’s.
So. Boomers and millennials. – same or different?
Both. And that’s important. There are enough similarities to bring these large and significant groups together on topics that matter, as was demonstrated in this debate.