We’re all different. Different experiences, different perspectives. We’re at different points in our lives. As the kids I know say, it’s all good.
I’m not young or, rather, not as young as most of the tech-online-wired crowd. At times, my body reminds me that I’m aging, but I definitely don’t feel old (whatever ‘old’ is exactly). I didn’t grow up reading blogs or surfing the net. My first exposure to email was at work years after finishing college. While there, I took one course in programming, which involved a tall stack of punch cards and a card reader half the size of my current SUV. I typed all of my college papers, consuming mass quantities of carbon paper and White-Out along the way. And, by typing, I mean using a typewriter.
Do I belong in the blogosphere? Do I – and my generation-mates – belong online using twitter and connecting with people through social networking? Damn straight, we do. I’m saying that to you young kids and to my peers. Let’s get over ourselves and recognize that we can all learn from one another.
At this point, I’m becoming accustomed to the vexed looks, complete with raised eyebrows and rolling eyes. (Even online, I can sense when someone is rolling their eyes. I’m that good.) Truth be told, this reaction isn’t limited to younger people. There are plenty my age who believe all of these “tech toys” are strictly timewasters aimed at the younger and easily-distracted generation.? This I attribute to a mix of tech intimidation and lack of practical information about basic online tools (all understandable) and a bit of prejudice (not OK). I also hear many in the younger crowd dismissing the desire and capacity of older generations to venture into the virtual world. For this, I have a more difficult time finding a justifiable explanation.
Over at TechCrunch, there is a “spirited” discussion going on regarding a new site called Boomerator, which is aimed at the Baby Boomer generation. What is most interesting – and concerning – are many of the posted comments. Several reflect a perception that “older” people can’t or won’t use the site due to their failing eyesight, reluctance to go online or tolerance to interact with a multigenerational audience. Are these characteristics accurate for some Boomers? You bet. The entire generation? Absolutely not. No sooner would I characterize all twenty-somethings as having or lacking certain values, perspectives or challenges than I would any other group or generation.
While I frequently speak about the virtual world, blogging is completely new to me. I recently took a leap of faith, establishing a self-hosted blog using wordpress.org. Suddenly, I’m inundated with new terminology: ftp, html coding, ajax, api keys and plugins. It has been overwhelming. I thought back to when I bought my first car, a light blue 1964 VW Bug with a manual transmission. I’d never driven a stick before, but had no hesitation about making the purchase. I was simply faced with something I hadn’t yet learned, not something I was unable to do. A friend taught me the basics of shifting gears and I was off. Before long, I was able to fix almost anything which went wrong and knew to buy replacement parts at the local Pick-and-Pull. Setting up the new blog isn’t as different an experience as one may think. New friends have generously shared advice and tips to get the blog up and running. Andy Quayle at BlogHost.me has patiently answered questions, although he may rue the day I signed up for his blog hosting service. My many twitter friends, especially Clara Kuo of The Millennium Marketer (@manesaclara), have replied instantly to queries with answers and words of encouragement.
If I am going to learn how to manage my blog most effectively, admittedly, I have a lot of catching up to do. With support from those with the experience I lack and the patience to answer very basic questions, I will progress. The proverbial icing on the cake for me is the opportunity to build relationships with these wonderful people, the majority of whom are young enough to be my kids. The opportunity to get to know you on your turf is a joy. Still, if I or any of my Baby Boomer peers once in awhile prefer to spend a little time visiting and sharing experiences with one another, such as on the Boomerator site, I would ask that you not take offense or prejudge anyone’s motives. While I might be welcome to join in a conversation about the impact (or lack thereof) of MTV’s TRL going off the air or the latest iPhone app, I might not be the first person you’d think to approach, and this is perfectly alright.
The one thing we all will become, if we are so fortunate, is old. Even when the extended warranty has expired and some of the parts are in need of repair, there is still a long road ahead. Personally, I look forward to traveling beside you – all of you – and sharing our experiences along the way.
Now, back to the grind. Have to figure out what this SEO business is all about.
Whew…is it hot in here or is it just me?