In an amazing article in the current issue of The New Republic, Noam Scheiber takes us inside the extreme youth culture of Silicon Valley. There, no matter what your talent or experience that could be useful, you're finished as soon as you leave your 30s. Here you can read that and, if you are not a Millennial, feel downright scared.
All of us over-40 might wonder: Will a version of Hitler's Youth take over all of tech? And, much worse is the implication that that glorification of youth could bleed into all the rest of the industries. Will aging handicap a career in irreversible ways? The new informal retirement age could be 39.
Anyone who has been bitten by this reality that aging can be lethal to a career recognizes that my speculation is not off the wall. Scheiber points out the Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg actually proclaimed during a public talk that younger professionals are smarter than older ones.
I got bitten two years ago. Confidently I pitched for assignments with Millennials. One was a marketing communications boutique owner in central Connecticut. The other was an entrepreneur in Boston. The term The New Republic article uses to discribe the experience of age encountering youth is "brutal." That's an understatement. I was truly unfortunate. My pitches worked. The verbal abuse was worse than I had be victim of even in the mean streets of Jersey City (before gentrification).
It could be magical thinking to assume that the Millennials will get theirs, just like we activist Baby Boomers got ours. When the ugly recession of the mid 1970s came, we were forced into the long hunger march into growing up. Every value we cherished and championed was absolutely wrong for the workplace.
Also it may be more magical thinking to assume that this new cultural divide matters. Maybe it doesn't. Maybe the aging will be just plowed over professionally and that's that.