Mariner has written about the conflicts between younger generations and older generations during this rapid shift in culture, economics and technology. Primarily because of the pandemic – a literal meth dose for culture – and delay of a more orderly change in culture between 1960 and 2021, the split is unusually focused between baby boomers (born 1940s-1960s) and generation X (born 1980s-1990s). Millennials are in the middle with older ones tending to be more traditional and the younger ones tending toward contemporary views.
Noting the perception of social morality between the two generations is akin to the Grand Canyon split of Arizona. Everyone is familiar with the many populist uprisings – more a social class issue than an age issue – but the generational conflict has more to do with institutions. Any and all institutions are included from government to business to public service to Wall Street itself.
The central issue between the generations has three parts. First is the manner of social interaction, that is, the ‘intrusion’ of smart phones, privacy, and altered ways of fulfilling human-to-human social relations. The second part is the interpretation of a successful life, that is, the 40 year career is a thing of the past; living in an era of better resources like housing, college cost, and flaunted family vehicles as a measure of success is disappearing. It is the third part that is the subject of this post: The role of institutions in the new world social order.
Below are a few examples.
Tenure is a term you’ll often hear associated with professors. Academic tenure means a professor has been granted lifetime employment with a college or university. It also protects them from being fired without cause. Tenured professors are smart and educated and have demonstrated good skills and many are past normal retirement because tenure protects their job. In other words they are baby boomers and a few from the silent generation (born 1920s-1940s). The role of colleges in society already is beginning a full transition to a new era where colleges are not staid, building-rich fortresses with an insulated student body. The new college will need to diversify its role moving out into the community, partnering with business, other public and private institutions and creating subjects and majors that mean more to the younger generations. Will colleges trim their baby boomer administrators and professors? Frankly, it is do or die time for colleges to rise like a phoenix from traditional classrooms.
Like colleges, other private service institutions like churches, retirement homes and libraries, the emerging culture is less interested in sequestered services because modern technology has provided any individual the opportunity to engage in personal activities more independently. A few examples are listed:
Churches struggle to keep an active outreach program because older parishioners are more comfortable sitting in pews or watching online services.
Small nursing homes have difficulty enlisting enough residents to sustain operability. More health services are easily available outside of retirement homes.
Community services for senior citizens have difficulty sustaining participants, e.g., lunch and dinner programs have dwindled because seniors can order meals online and have them delivered.
Libraries are caught with rooms full of books that go unread because of internet browsers. In each of these examples, the administrators typically are older millennials or baby boomers. These older administrators, like the professors, are classy, responsible people. But they are old. They did not have the same reality in their active years that the current generations are experiencing.
Speaking brutally, retirement is the solution to help institutions redefine their functions. Making mandatory retirement fair will take new government regulations and financial guarantees for the retirees.
As mariner has advised for Congressional elections, do not vote for any candidate over 55. The emerging culture demands that institutions redefine themselves to be ‘out on the street’ dealing with the citizenry on their turf instead of being sheltered within the comfort of stationary buildings.
Ancient Mariner (Talk about old . . .)