[EDITORIAL NOTE NO. 1: I will be in New York City tomorrow, 2 April, for an appearance on the Brian Lehrer Live show at 7:30PM ET to discuss elderblogging. New Yorkers can watch on Time Warner CUNY-TV channel 75. Everyone else who is interested can catch the live, online, video feed here. There is a list of television rebroadcast times on the website where the program video will also be archived.]
[EDITORIAL NOTE NO. 2: Tonight at 10PM ET on ABC-TV, there is a Barbara Walters Special titled “Live To Be 150 – Can You Do It?” Find out more here.]
Listen to this young, technology worker in his self-assured assessment of boomer and elder workers as he discusses the shift from office-based employment to increased telecommuting within communities and among far-flung corners of the world:
“Having recently ‘pitched’ a room full of senior citizens on new technology trends, I can assure you that they are disinclined to buy a computer (if they do not already have one), much less create an avatar. They are comfortable with the traditional workplace metaphor...with autonomous-work/shared-environment, so any tools that are developed for them must be painfully easy-to-use and consistent with their ingrained habits.”
- - Christian Renaud’s Weblog, 28 March 2008
Apparently, Mr. Renaud is unaware that most boomers are still active in the workforce (the oldest are 62, youngest 44) with a probable majority familiar with computers and the distances they cover. He probably doesn’t know, either, that people 65 and older are going online in record numbers which does, necessarily, involve use of a computer.
As to creating an avatar, when did that minor technique, hardly difficult, become a benchmark of technology competency?
Some questions come to mind from Renaud’s commentary: How old were these “senior citizens” – 50, 70, 80? How long have they been retired? How many of them were there – 10, 20, 100? – for Mr. Renaud to be so certain they are representative?
Elder workers are regularly admonished by career counselors to be patient with inexperienced young managers to whom they report and to not be know-it-alls. Good advice. But a functioning and successful workplace also requires that young workers shed their prejudices and learn the value of elders:
- Elders take fewer sick days than younger workers
- Productivity does not decline with age
- Elders are more loyal, dedicated and quality-conscious than younger workers
- Motivation often increases with age
- Old workers are at least as creative as young ones. Eighty percent of the most workable and worthwhile new production ideas are produced by employees older than 40.
- Old workers are just as flexible as young workers when they understand the reasons, although they are more likely to ask why.
[Sources supplied upon request]
“Think you are a good presenter?" twittered Mr. Renaud. "Try a room full of Senior Citizens. Harder than my last keynote x 10."
Maybe he was annoyed that those senior citizens were asking why?
Certainly, there are elders who are stuck in their ways, but if Mr. Renaud is as representative of his age group as he believes his room full of senior citizens is, then he too is inflexible.
The good news is that all of the above may become moot with the growth of telecommuting. No one knows your age from an email message or your avatar.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, in A Bad Ending, Marvin Wildman tells of a conversation with his father that includes a surprise that if not quite an April Fool's joke, is still in the spirit of the day.]