The age to engage

Our society has traditionally tended to confirm to the norms of it’s leaders and influencers, which historically are the older generations. Therefore social values tend to confirm to the more traditional and conservative (with a small ‘c’). I have often wondered whilst growing up what the world would be like when those leaders came from the counter-culture of the 1960s baby boomers generation. Well it’s safe to say that those times are most definitely here, and have been here for a while.

For instance, an article in the economist last week about open innovation business models, was quoted as being partly inspired by the summer of love (1967). Don Tapscott, author of wikinomics, spoke this morning about mass collaboration and cited Bob Dylan lyrics. Tony Blair famously wanted to play guitar in a band, if he hadn’t been prime minister.

And yet, the average age of internet users is now 42 according to Pew, and silver surfers are frequently more web savvy than the baby boomers, as they have the motivation, the tools, and critically the time. And the net generation (people born after 1977 apparently) are mediasnackers who engage and share with their communities and peers, and are intuitive about their use of technology. I suspect that the baby boomers, whilst finally coming of age, are perhaps slightly annoyed that when it is ‘their turn’, the world has become far more egalitarian and eroding their spot in the limelight. And as a generation X’er (born in ’74) I wonder whether they play some kind of bridging/connecting role bridging the digital divide.

This isn’t to say that agism isn’t still rife in all walks of life – it clearly is, both in preference of young and old depending on situation. But age is a poor indicator of knowledge, experience or authority and if it is becoming less relevant, I’m intruiged as to how will we pick and choose our leaders, values and direction in future.

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