Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Patience: A Generational Gap

I recently had a conversation with a summer intern where we discussed her internship thus far and what her field experience would entail. Throughout our conversation I caught myself thinking:
Why doesn’t she seem nervous?
Why aren’t her hands sweating?
Why hasn’t she asked a stupid question yet?
Why doesn’t she appear to have gained the freshman 15 like I did?
So many questions floated across my mind during that one-hour meeting. I learned that the gal is twelve – twwwwwwellllllvvvvve - years younger than I.
With that realization, my questions were all suddenly answered: 
We’re basically living on a different planet.

Our age/experience/life-in-general gap made me think back to last week’s blog regarding the ancient need for people my age to wait at least an hour (more like a minimum of three once you drove to Wal-Mart, ran errands and waited for film to be developed) to see any photos that had been taken using a fim camera.
That’s how my generation learned patience!
That’s how we lived through an entire school day without taking a photo of ourselves in the bathroom mirror!
That’s why thousands of us are still holding on to these boxes

which are full of these!

My brief meeting with the intern left me wondering: What else?
What else has today’s younger generation not experienced, leaving them – in many ways – less patient than my generation?
(Which, of course, is much less patience that our parents' generation.)

Let me count the ways:

They didn’t get to play Oregon Trail. I say “get” like it was a treat. It wasn’t a treat, it was a chore. One minute you're in computer class pressing the space bar and the next thing you know Nicole has died of dysentery (there’s one in every crowd). Then, the meat goes bad because Matt couldn’t pull his weight when fording the Mississippi River (always won the spelling bee, never was athletic). My generation didn’t have to read The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team and apply it in the workplace because we had to learn about teamwork the hard way: Figuring out how to survive computer class without an axle breaking.

And another thing.

Today’s youth don’t understand the magnitude of multitasking because they didn't have to sit through an entire seventh-grade social studies class, trying to memorize the fifty-four countries in Africa and also keep a Giga Pet alive in their locker. You want to talk about pressure? Try to focus on a creative way to remember where Djibouti is while wondering if your Giga got enough love to last until Algebra 1. 


I never had one of these but my friend Marissa had three and she let me take care of one for a day. I killed it before lunch. It was a quick - I like you but I don't trust you with my kids - lesson in friendship and I went back to learning about Congo in no time. 

And finally.

The younger generation doesn't have to wait for mom to get off the phone with the PTA President before they can switch out the phone jacks and pray to the Internet gods that the connection goes through so they can chat with friends they haven't seen in three hours. 

They can’t identify with the association of anxiety that comes with these sounds:

They don’t understand the planning and patience that goes into trying to download ten songs overnight (because surely no one will try to call the home phone between 10:00 PM and 5:00 AM, right?) only to wake up to find that seven had errors occur shortly after you dozed off into dreams of Pacey and Joey.

We can talk all day about working with Millennials, compensation, benefits, work styles, praise and cluster offices. But the root of the patience problem comes down to the newest generation in the workplace having little to no experience with film cameras, The Oregon Trail, Giga Pets and dial-up Internet.

As for the freshman fifteen: 
As long as cheese bread still exists, 
the freshman fifteen will span lifetimes.

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