Monday, July 23, 2018


I saw a promotion recently for a Netflix documentary about Bobby Kennedy. A black screen featured the overlay of large red numerals for 1968 and it struck me that I had forgotten what a tumultuous year that was. We think we are living in crazy times now, but in 1968 many baby boomers felt a loss of innocence that probably has stuck with us to this day.

The year began with the realization that the war in Vietnam was lost. Walter Cronkite of CBS news said so and we trusted him. Peace with honor was a bullshit way of saying stick a fork in it and the loss of life for this lost cause still boggles the mind, as does the after the fact realization that the war was prolonged for purely political gain.

Eugene McCarthy won the New Hampshire Democratic primary in March and LBJ announced his withdrawal from the race. Everyone was shocked.

More shocking still was the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in April. The riots that followed underscored the simmering resentment and frustration that African Americans felt when it came to their civil rights in a country that prided itself on believing that all men are created equal.

Just a few months later, after Bobby Kennedy had won California’s Democratic primary, he was assassinated in Los Angeles. Young baby boomers who were drawn to the charismatic politician were devastated. He represented the hope that we could be a better more compassionate nation and it felt like someone had cruelly doused the flame. His final public words have some powerful resonance still, especially at this moment in our nation’s history: “What I think is quite clear is that we can work together… And that what has been going on with the United States over the period of the last three years, the divisions, the violence, the disenchantment with our society, the divisions — whether it’s between blacks and whites, between the poor and the more affluent, or between age groups, or in the war in Vietnam — that we can work together. We are a great country, an unselfish country and a compassionate country. And I intend to make that my basis for running.”

And lest you forget, this was all happening 50 years ago. Maybe the innocence is long gone, but I would like to think that the optimism and compassion are still there for millions of boomers.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

If I Had a Hammer

I’d hammer in the evening, all over this land.

News flash: Millennials are more apt to end up in the ER from a DIY home improvement project. More than whom? More than baby boomers, of course.

According to a study done by SoFi (a finance company I’ve never heard of before), millennials are 23% more likely than boomers to end up in the ER due to a home improvement mishap. And two times more likely to require stitches. And twice as likely to be injured by power tools. You can find the full study here.

Here’s the kicker. The reason millennials suffer more injuries is down to overzealousness…they are just too eager to show off their latest project on social media. So really it’s all Facebook’s fault.

Boomers are 22% more likely to finish their DIY projects, but millennials are 65% more likely to finish ahead of schedule (and that may include time spent in the ER). It’s also telling that millennials are more than four times more likely to hire a professional for their next home improvement project.

Not surprisingly, millennials are twice as likely to post photos of their project on social media just to “show off.” Doing it for the ‘gram (that’s short for Instagram if you’ve been living under a rock) comes naturally to this cohort.

What happened to improving something in your home just for the comfort and satisfaction of a job well done? You might as well ask why we no longer have rotary phone dials.

I’m not making social media out to be the monster in the closet. It’s the go to destination for figuring out how to do literally thousands of DIY tasks. From replacing solenoids and brake shoes, to repairing toaster ovens and drying out smart phones that fell in the toilet, the internet (and specifically Youtube) has significantly boosted the success rate of DIY projects. Long gone are the days when you had to go to the library for a how-to book or struggled to figure the problem out on your own. Now there are thousands of “experts” posting DIY videos that take you step by step through the project and that has given many of us the confidence to tackle some tricky tasks.

Therein may be the difference between boomers and millennials. We use it as a tool, they use it as a megaphone. Vive la difference and stay out of the ER.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.