Friday, March 14, 2014

Oh Crap. We’re Quaint

Or at least millennials and maybe your own children are starting to look at you that way. It’s not quite on the order of the “I had to walk barefoot 3 miles to school” syndrome, but it’s close.

Dare you to mention that you used to play records on a turntable, the wild-eyed stares come out. Sure, we now get our music from iTunes and listen to it with earbuds on our smartphones or tablets, but tell me you’ve forgotten playing 45s on a record player --- maybe with one of those plastic inserts so that it would fit on a 33rpm spindle. Am I right? You do remember? You’re still going to deny it?

As they say in the infomercials, “But that’s not all!” If you’re going to get into the wayback machine (thanks Mr. Peabody), how about 8-tracks and cassettes. How can you forget them, never mind explain them to someone younger than age 20?

Just to keep this game going a little longer, try to remember what telephones used to look like. Ugly black cords that lost their springiness, clear plastic disks for rotary dialing, and analog bases that look totally ridiculous when you put them side by side with a contemporary cordless handset or a smartphone.

Now we take photographs on our smartphones and see them instantly. But there was a time when instant photographs meant getting out the Polaroid camera and loading film that had its own chemistry set built into the box. Just wait 60 seconds, and shazzam, you’ve got a crude, oddly tinted photograph. The 60 second miracle it was called in a flash of marketing hyperbole. And by the way, it may startle you to know that it was invented 67 years ago!

I’m typing this on a wireless keyboard connected to a powerful computer while viewing the text on a cinema monitor. A great leap forward from my Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 200 (fondly referred to as the Trash 80). We actually connected it via a 28pin ribbon cable to a Royal typewriter when we wanted to print something. Amazing! Speaking of typewriters, who doesn’t have fond memories of watching that crazy ball jump around on an IBM Selectric?

So yes, this walk down memory lane certifies that baby boomers are getting pretty darn quaint. If you find yourself using phrases such as “in my day” or “back in the day,” then you’re beyond quaint. My advice is to just shut up about all these analog devices and jump on the next train to app town – wherever it’s going.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

How About Never? Is Never Good for You?

Nearly half of all baby boomers say they don’t expect to retire until age 66, or even later. But the stat that got my attention was that 1 in 10 say they will never retire. NEVER. You hear me, I’m NEVER going to retire. Going from the desk or wherever right to the grave.

Is it just about the money, or is something else going on here? No question, many boomers feel like they must keep working to boost their retirement income, but other boomers just want to stay engaged with the world and that means staying on the job. I get that. Most retirees that I know are treating retirement like a job. They have lists of things to do, projects to get done, and places to go. Not much golfing or shuffleboarding there, unlike their parents. The whole notion of what to do in retirement has been turned upside down.

And if I read one more article about how boomers can start their own business to work from home (or even while they travel the world!!), I’ll shoot myself. They make it sound so easy. Pick a skill or a service and off you go. It’s NOT that easy and that’s why smart boomers who can stay on the job are doing just that.

Will employers and customers recognize the value of baby boomer experience and talent? That’s the big question. Younger workers have much to offer with their enthusiasm and technical knowledge, but the maturity and wisdom of a highly engaged boomer who’s truly motivated to stay on the job should make them just as valuable, if not more so.

Bottom line, we’re going to try to keep our jobs, so employers, clients and customers might as well capitalize on what we’re offering. Putting workers out to pasture at age 60 or 62 is so old school. The world doesn’t work that way anymore and the news stories about aged 60+ individuals achieving fame for late-life achievements just goes to prove that there are many attractive options to retirement.

It’s time for us all to get used to seeing aged 70+ workers still pulling their weight and making a valuable contribution in the workplace. And don’t be surprised when you ask them when they’re going to retire, they are still insisting on NEVER.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.