Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Web Secret #321: Upgrade or Die

I spend many hours every week keeping up with the latest technology hardware, software and social media as it impacts mental health and the employee assistance fields - my chosen areas of expertise.

It's a bit like jumping on to a moving treadmill that is keeping pace with a 4 minute mile, while you only have the capacity to run a 10 minute mile.

I have a lot of help - my Millenial children. And my nieces and nephews who range in age from 20 to 30.

This morning, my son told me about the Human Connectome project. A few months ago, I learned from my 20 year old daughter that one of the hottest game apps on college campuses is "2048". (Warning: download this app and be prepared to experience the gaming equivalent of crack cocaine.)

It does not surprise me that in 2012, Cathryn Sloane wrote a very controversial blog post "Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25," provoking outrage in a vast number of GenXers and Baby Boomers and a good number of scathing rebuttals.

So does everyone have to "Upgrade or Die?," as a 2013 blog post suggested? The author of that article makes an excellent point: "...[there is a] stereotype that older people can’t or won’t learn new technology, and that younger people are inherently better at new technology."

The truth is that there will always be people who live off the grid and embrace an "old fashioned" way of doing things. And depending on your job description, it may simply be unnecessary to have the latest gadget or use the latest operating system.

Putting that aside, there is extensive research showing that the most effective work groups are heterogeneous. That speaks to the importance of including representatives from different generations in many different settings. My relationship with technology spans from the IBM punch card to the iPhone 6. I have a lot of perspective and I understand the context of many technological advances.

My younger children grew up with social media and cell phones. They have neither perspective nor much context but they easily adopt new technology. They have nothing to unlearn.

Now here's the thing. Go into any restaurant around 6pm. You will see young couples with toddlers. The toddlers are very well behaved because they are each holding an iPad, playing with the game apps that have been created for their generation. In 20 years, when my children are middle aged, they will be working with those those now young adult toddlers. They belong to an as yet unnamed generation.

What will that look like?

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