Generational Differences

Okay, I’ve got to hand it to you, WordPress. You got me thinking. That’s always dangerous. The world would probably be better off if I stopped thinking about Things and started watching reality television.

It’s the whole issue of manners and communications. How many folks are clueless when it comes to what’s appropriate under what circumstances? This is pretty much a no-brainer for my generation. It’s not that we’re so smart. It’s just we were raised in a different world.

We had the benefit of growing up when there were clear rules about social behavior. There were standards for professional communications. How to talk to superior officers, bosses, and colleagues. We learned this stuff in school. We learned it at home. We learned it in our friends’ homes. You called your teachers “Mrs. Whoever.” That’s also how we addressed our friends’ moms and how they addressed our parents. That’s how we addressed everyone older than us.

Cover of "The Graduate"

It’s one of the funny parts of watching “The Graduate” with Dustin Hoffman. He may be sleeping with Mrs. Robinson, but he never calls her by her first name. That would be impolite.

The generations who grew up after us lived in a world without rules. They didn’t believe they needed to respect their elders simply because they were elders. They heard a different message: everyone is equal. But the thing is, we are unbelievably far from equal. It’s not about race or ethnicity, color or sex, although these factor into the equation. It’s about money and power. Which is what it has been about since time and history began. Everything else is built on that bottom line. It’s how society really works.

In my generation, we all knew this before we left high school. You don’t treat your boss like your buddies. It has nothing to do with whether or not the boss deserves your respect. Nice if he or she does, but In the course of a career the odds favor your working for any number of people who are unworthy of your respect.

As long as they sign your pay check, you will treat them with respect, tact, and care. Because not only does your salary depend on it, so does your reputation and any career you hope to have. Your boss may very well be as big an asshole as you think he or she is, but you don’t say so. And if you’re smart, you don’t say it behind his or her back either because another rule of the real world is that whatever you say will get back to whoever you said it about. Those chickens always come back to roost, every damned time.

You will need all the good will and recommendations you can get as you fight your way through the working world, so you don’t squander it, don’t blow your world up by gossiping, backbiting, and behaving like a brat. That’ll get you fired without a recommendation and trust me, you don’t want that.

And if you join the military or work in law enforcement or a fire department? Anything remotely military in structure? Mouth off to your superior officer and watch what happens. Maybe you shouldn’t really do that. Not a good idea.


To me and people my age, all this stuff is self-evident, that all men may have been created equal, but some are much more equal than others. No one had to tell us not to start a memo to the boss with “Yo, Boss man!” We knew that. We made other mistakes, but we always recognized who had the power. And who didn’t. We knew when to fight and when to duck and cover. We knew we needed to earn our way and needed to behave correctly to have a chance of success.

But our kids? Who aren’t kids anymore? Many of whom have grown up kids of their own? They don’t seem to understand this stuff. Unsurprisingly, neither do their children. I don’t understand what they don’t understand. Do you?

Categories: Blogging, Computers, Economics, Education, Friendship, Life, Media, Reality, social media, Technology

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. When I started my very last job it was with giant Intel Corporation in Hillsboro, Oregon. I had been flown 3,000 and treated like royalty just for the interview. I certainly, at age 56, was on my best behavior. After making it through the hiring process and being offered a starting salary 50% greater than I had ever earned in my working career, I met my supervisor for what is known as a “One On One”. He introduced himself politely and gave me a short description of his background. He was 25 years old, a college graduate and a former military man, all by age 25.

    I had underwear older than him but was smart enough to understand who determined my career at Intel. That carried me far enough to make it through to retirement 5 years later. I had worked hard, never missed a day of work and played by their rules. I was certainly alone in that respect as the young co-workers broke every rule in the book, including literally going home each day and only showing up for 4 hours of the 12 hour shift. I neveer did get accustomed to that mentality. My supervisor was promoted to a branch manager as the revolving door of success continued. I went nowhere because I didn’t brown nose every manager/engineer in the place nor lie about my accomplishments. That’s how you get ahead at Intel, lying.

    I don’t miss work or the group of co-workers who’d stab you in the back & twist the knife to get ahead in today’s workplace. I retired with my honor & pride intact and never looked back.


    • Lying is how you get ahead most places, combined with selective brown-nosing and exaggeration that is a hairsbreadth from lying. That’s the world. I worked at Intel in Hudson. And so many other places. It’s a rough world. I’m glad to be elsewhere. I don’t have the emotional fortitude (not to mention physical strength) to do it anymore.


      • During the interview for the Intel job a panel of 4 people fired questions at me. They claimed I had the most extensive resume they had ever seen. I mentioned that all that background was real and not exaggerated. I had no need to exaggerate. I aced their verbal test which was another first in their experience. Experience counts.

        If I had to lie to get promoted and my work didn’t speak for itself then pass me by. But, when the shit hits the fan they always called on me to fix their problems. The BS folks need not apply.


  2. Very true.
    Sometimes I’ll hear one of our new early-twenty-something employees say something and I’ll think to myself, “Um, that’s the managing director you’re talking to…”!


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