When it comes to respect and empathy, there is no greater generation that deserves mine that than my grandfathers. These are the Americans born during the Depression. Majority of the men were then drafted to fight in World World II. Let’s not forget about the women either. Approximately 400,000 women JOINED the military (not drafted) and worked as nurses, drove trucks, repaired airplanes and performed clerical work to free up men for combat. While the war was going on over there, nineteen million American women filled out the home front labor force, in factory jobs, transportation, agricultural and office work. After the war ended, Americas came back and built the largest economic powerhouse this world had ever seen.
Discipline. Hardship. Fortitude. It is the simple reason why they are called the Great Generation and we must acknowledge that.
As a mom, I want to leave the world a better place than I left it. I am lucky enough that my grandfather, Jack Bridges, a retired Major in the Air Force, is still around. Unfortunately, when his time comes, I don’t believe he can share my same sentiment as leaving this place better than when he left it.
There are a million reasons why the world is the way it is right now. The list as to why generations continue to decline is very long, political and opinionated so I wanted to focus on a few reasons I feel strongly about:
The Internet (aka the devil in the red dress)
While having instant access to facts is a game changer, I miss the days where we had to go home and pull out the old encyclopedia to learn about something. Not sure about the date or why WWI happened? Go to the library, open a book or talk to your grandparents. Now google “what caused WWI?” and over 100 pages of content pops up. How is it possible for anyone even an historian to fact check where all the content came from? Wikipedia can be altered, websites can be written by literally anyone and even PBS documentaries have some sort of bias today. Generations have lost or just forgotten how to do proper research. Curiosity is literally dead, because its no longer a part of our vocabulary. Anything you even have a ounce of curiosity about, is just a click away from your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop.
The upside? Big data is big business. No, I am not talking about how Facebook can now creepily know you were shopping for baby gates on amazon a week ago and now you see constant baby gate advertisements on your Facebook feed. I am talking about healthcare. Big data can show us where the sickest people live, what resources they have or don’t have around them and how we can engage them to create healthier populations, leading to lower costs for care. Big data can show which physicians are putting quality over quantity when it comes to patient care. This is only the tip of the iceberg on data. The point is while the Internet is a vast blackhole of information, my wish is that, we as consumers, do a better job of true research before we used the Internet as fact.
Social Media (The New Age Addiction)
Being a social media consultant, this one is difficult for me. While it has been proven to be addictive, it is also a necessity for businesses of any shape or size to thrive today. It forces you to compare yourself to others, which in some cases can lead to mental health issues. Social media empowers those to have a voice which on the surface is an evolution for the human race. When everyone has a platform to voice their opinion, it also forces lines to be drawn. Topics that used to be “PC” are now debated on social media for the world to see. Instead of it being a way to connect ourselves with others, it has proven time and time again to be one of the ultimate dividers of our species, especially during times of elections, milestones in American history both negative and positive and anything relating to generational divides.
The upside? It really does connect us. While some of these so called “not PC” conversations are wreaking havoc on the U.S., they are conversations that needed to be had. Voices that have gone unheard for decades or even hundreds of years can now seek actual change which is always a positive. Small business owners and entrepreneurs are able to reach out to their consumers directly allowing their businesses to thrive, which is the quintessential American dream. My 93 grandfather can stay up to date on my life and all of his grandchildren and great grandchildren. 15-20 years ago, the best thing he got from me was a weekly touch base phone call or visit. Long lost friends and family members have found each other after sometimes 50 years of separation. THAT is powerful. The one thing we all forget is we are all human. There is a person sitting behind that profile, that person walks in different shoes than you and has taken a different path in life than you. Whether they are trying to sell you something, convince you of something or just wanting to connect, social media is still positive in this world as long as we ALL keep it in perspective.
Where is the Competition?
This topic might gain me a few eye rolls or even a negative comment, but here it goes. Why is competition bad? The Great Generation had to be competitive. I once saw a quote that resonated with me and to be honest makes me think about what the Great Generation went though “rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt.” After surviving through the great depression and then pulling together as a nation for WWII, America built the greatest products, took innovation to a new level and our economy was thriving better than it ever had. The rise of globalization has made some to believe that America being the “best” country in the world is arrogance, not pride. Being the best brings out the best in people. When humans are compared against others based on a certain criteria, it forces us to try harder, put in extra effort because nobody likes to lose. The day my child gets a “participation” trophy in his first soccer tournament for placing 4th, we will be having a family discussion about the importance of sportsmanship, not giving up and trying harder next time. Competition is not bad. Competitive markets force innovation, better products and individuals to push themselves to greater heights than they imagined.
That is it, in a nutshell….. a very simplified nutshell. I know the U.S. and world issues are so much more complicated than the Internet, social media and competition.
However, as I sift through my social media for the day, on the Internet, while “multi-tasking” how many followers I have for my first J.Bridges client (that competition again), it made me think…
“I wonder what my grandfather (Pappy) was doing when he was my age, on a fall night like tonight, after working 10-12 hours going door to door selling machinery, then spending the evening with his family and reading the newspaper?”
Probably sleeping and that is ok too sometimes.
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