Generational Change & The Recession

Over lunch with a good friend today, we discussed the recession, although by the packed restaurant one couldn’t really tell a recession was underway. Perhaps we thought, what is partly evolving now is a global change in the guard. Most of the financial instruments such as sub-prime mortgages, that lead to this current state of affairs were designed by the Old Guard…the 55+ demographic. The bunch that took over senior management in the financial sector during the 1980’s.

Those of us born after 1965 through to about 1980 (there is significant debate over naming the “generations”) are stuck like mystery meat in the middle of the Boomers and the Echo (sic “Y”) Generation and Generation X. We don’t have enough numbers to really be economically or politically persuasive. The Mystery Meat Generation rode the back-end of the 80’s into the 90’s (born ’66 through ’76 or so) and were dislocated by Nirvanna and the Spice Girls. Yet we garnered the insights of the Boomers and fed on the energy of the Echo’s. We’re neither bitwixt nor between. Our wealth, such as it may be now, is off the drippings of the Boomers.
President Obama is of this in-between generation, sitting on the tail-end of the Boomers. Yet he has clearly grasped the changing shifts underway and the new guard coming in. It is those who know how to understand and manage the vast amount of information via the Web and the new medium it represents, that are pushing out the old guard.
Personally, I think that’s a damn good thing. The old guard were those who controlled information because the concept of the Web, of cross-functional collaboration of moving fast and developing ideas on the fly, of social justice and transparency, did not exist in their time. It only takes a few good ideas to catch on…and wham! We have change. Or we have a crisis like today…and change becomes necessary.
I was caught up then in this video “Do You Know?” found via Twitter (hat tip to Anne1942 on Twitter) who sells Hammocks. And once we realize the volumes of information we’re learning to comprehend and manage, one realizes that perhaps yes, there is a generational shift underway.
The tools that make up what we call Social Media enable us to push ideas fast, to gather quickly and attend to the issues that matter to us – the frictions and tensions of social groups are removed. If we don’t feel an issue is important, we move on to what is important to us. If an issue gains enough momentum, it will spill over into an actionable act of change in the real world. Whether that’s democratic, political change or simply dislike of a certain style of clothing.
I have no answers, only speculations. What do you think? Is part of this recession, these challenging economic times, a change of generations who are leveraging information in the same way printing changed society hundreds of years ago? Is there a generational shift underway?


The Winter Blues