Quick links for December 2015
Christmas Angels and Happy New Year
I wrote this piece in December of 2010 for a January 2011 column in a seniors’ newspaper. The columns were advertising for my tiny private enterprise, MacSeniors Consulting, which I operated from 2005 to 2013.
First, let me wish one and all a new year to remember—for its good health, adventure, and happy encounters. 2010 was pretty good, but it’s time to move on from the Year of Us Acquiring to the Age of Aquarius*, which, according to my Apple’s Dictionary, is “believed by some to signal a period of peace and harmony.” Let’s hope so.
I want to start the year with a column that’s only peripherally about computers, but which connects to something touched on in a previous issue: generalizations and generations.
So here’s the (true) story. I’m at the Pharmasave Post Office about to start stamping my myriad Christmas cards, when a lovely female voice asks, “Would you like some help with those?” Now, I’d like to think I did not look incapable of performing the task myself (the postmistress certainly thought I could!), nor was I experiencing some kind of hallucination. I looked up and saw a lovely face with sparkling eyes and a vivacious smile. A thirty-something perhaps. A Christmas angel, I thought, (and I’m not sure I even believe in angels). I accepted her offer with great gratitude knowing it would save me a few minutes from my busy late afternoon.
She introduced herself as Kristina. She deduced that the cards might be on their way to business clients and mentioned that she remembered having helped her entrepreneurial mom years ago with her Xmas cards. I identified my business and asked her if she used a Mac. She said no, and commented that she didn’t know a lot about computers although she probably should. She mentioned that she had just come from work—at the horse barns (which explained the unusual scent I had been trying to place). We chatted amiably until the task was done, then I thanked her profusely, and we parted as kindred spirits who share faith in “paying-it-forward.”
All in all, my encounter with K was a highlight of my pre-Christmas season that re-awakened me to the possibilities all around us for happy, indeed magical moments of peace and good will. That is to say, when we’re not busy profiling (I believe we used to say ‘pigeon-holing’) people according to their gender, ethnicity, race, citizenship, politics, employment, appearance, mental capacity, and/or age just for starters.
I’ve written before about how my insights into ‘seniors’ have evolved (I would say improved) since I began business five years ago. It’s not that I’ve discovered that people of advanced age can be wonderful. It IS that I’ve come to value how unique we all are. That so many are ALSO wonderful is a boon. My clients and senior acquaintances remind me every day that they ‘get’ the blessings of longevity!
So where am I headed here? Kristina is one of the “younger generation.” Does it have a name? Lots was written along the lines of this blog in 2005 about those currently 15 to 35:
“For years, every generation of twenty-somethings has had nicknames. Generation X and Y come to mind. But the latest phenomenon is well-educated, well-financed and not eager to pay dues. In their world of instant communication and instant gratification, having it all can’t wait. Employers, sociologists, and even the media have dubbed them ‘the entitlement generation.’”
The entitlement generation
And that’s pretty polite compared to some of the epithets I’ve heard roll off the lips of my (and the previous) generation. We say such bitter things mainly when we’re generalizing. Yet many, probably most grandparents I know will praise a favourite grandchild, nephew or niece, or other young adult whom they think the world of—as an individual. When it comes to the generation as a whole, however, we’re not always so generous. Maybe we should focus more on the ones and less on the zeroes…
I want to add an epilogue to the story. The very next day I met angel #2, a bright, well spoken, polite, (and yes, I noticed, beautiful, blonde) 18-year-old who is being home-schooled. We’ll call her ‘Laura.’ She and her mother needed their two Macs adjusted for a mutual problem. Sadly, I’m ashamed to admit that my first expectation of L was low because I initially saw her as a representative of that ‘entitlement generation.’ I couldn’t have been more wrong. At one point, Laura respectfully asked if she could show me how she performed a certain operation. Her demonstration provided me with helpful information. All in all, both ladies left me with a very favourable impression.
When I asked Laura what she was missing most about being out of school in her graduating year, I was shocked as mother explained that daughter has been subject to bullying at school. L explained with a smile that she had decided to take her most difficult Grade 12 courses at home by correspondence but would “return for the second semester when she could better enjoy the fun stuff.” She did not present herself as a victim, and was very gracious, indeed surprised, when I complimented the wonderful attributes she had repeatedly displayed in the two hours the three of us had been working together, including remarkable and intelligent eye contact, eagerness to learn, and a consistently pleasant and optimistic demeanour. Her mom remarked that outside of home, she doesn’t think L hears a lot of positive comments even from support workers in the school system. Mother and daughter appeared to have a mutually supportive and respectful relationship. I can’t imagine anyone failing to grasp L’s qualities, but apparently it happens.
If people like Laura (and perhaps Kristina, too) are being squeezed socially by the very system that is supposed to be preparing us for the Age of Aquarius*, then what hope is there for the world? My hope is that characters like Kristina, Laura, and the billions like them (including an equal number of young men I don’t have space to acknowledge in this column), noticed, yet not always appreciated, will prevail. No amount of technology can create individuals like them. In fact, as we’ll discuss later in the year, technology may be the biggest threat to their growth and survival.
*Click here to learn more about the Age of Aquarius….
Postscript: Now that my wife and I have moved to Kelowna, I’m pleased to say that, daily, I bump into folks, young and older, who epitomize the human qualities this piece tries to appreciate. The post about the Celebration Tree (below) also reflects what I’m talking about….