Are we Baby Boomers being punished for our sins against the Silent Generation during the Counterculture of the late 1960s and early '70s? Maybe. Yes, Father Forgive Me, I treated my parents like they were frozen in time, my professors as if they hadn't had a fresh thought since their dissertation and my employers like they were Fascists. On Good Friday, we might have a day of public repentance.
Now, that Millennials are dishing the same and worse at anyone over-40, we know exactly how our certitude, speed of thought and behavior and new language hurt anyone over-30. And dish Millennials do.
Daily, in a growing number of ways we, now the old guard, feel verbally tormented or, worse, ignored by tech-smart Millennials. The great divide between what has morphed into two cultures is captured in The New York Times Magazine by Millennial Yiren Lu. Here you can read that analysis. It's more than a generation gap. It's two worlds which may never be able to really co-exist. Each may spin only in its own orbit.
Sure, there are exceptions. But they happen outside Silicon Valley. In Manhattan, where old wealth still insulates the old guard, Millennials at public relations agencies not only give me assignments. They treat me well. Those a few years out of college with an eye on a ghostwriting career request tips. After a layoff (yes, Millennials lose jobs, actually more often than we Baby Boomers did) those under-34 find themselves being interviewed by those of us on the other side of the great divide. They're not hired and they ask me why. Recently, I did the copy for an app startup's banner ads, long form and voice-over.
However, I have a hunch that the Silicon Valley separation of the generations could bleed into every part of America's professional life. The way to prevent that? The generations have to listen to what each other is saying in terms of goals. For instance, their brand of capitalism is softer than the establishment experts I am used to writing for. Through brutal experience, I have learned to embed that value in the copy.
On the other hand, they could learn something from me about creating copy that converts into sales. Consumers don't purchase innovation. They focus on benefits. When shopping, they want more focus on product or service and less on personality.
How this tension between generations will play out no one can predict. Few anticipated that we counterculture hippies would suit up for middle management jobs in Corporate America. Perhaps that why so many of all generations are exploring Buddhism. Its central tenet is: Everything changes.