Know When to Shut Up and Sit Down
Cautious Friending

Dear Old People:

Eyes on the world That's how the "Generation M Manifesto" begins. Writer Umair Haque, Director of the Havas Media Lab, writes his manifesto at Harvard Business Publishing, and he isn't pulling any punches. He's telling old people - let's say, boomers and seniors (whoever they are)..."My generation would like to break up with you."

I found his article intriguing, humorous, and slightly overstated, as many "manifestos" are. Umair apparently thinks anyone over the age of...I'm picking 45, is the cause of the state of affairs in the world, as it is today, and he aims to throw them out - so he and his "friends" (I use the term loosely), can "fix" things. Because, of course, they know how to do that better than we old people.

His assertion that we "run the world" is a big overstatement - all he has to do is look around at the predominant brands dominating the marketplace today (eBay, Amazon, Google, Yahoo!, Twitter, Facebook) and he's easily proven wrong. I know, Twitter and Facebook are still looking for the holy grail when it comes to making money, but...Amazon and Google didn't make money right out of the blocks, if you remember. The reality is that these are the companies and the foundation for the future, and they are part of his generation, more than mine.

Here are some of his assertions, and his answers to them:

"Dear Old People Who Run the World,

My generation would like to break up with you.  

Everyday, I see a widening gap in how you and we understand the world — and what we want from it. I think we have irreconcilable differences.

You wanted big, fat, lazy "business." We want small, responsive, micro-scale commerce.To-trust

You turned politics into a dirty word. We want authentic, deep democracy — everywhere.

You wanted financial fundamentalism. We want an economics that makes sense for people — not just banks.

You wanted shareholder value — built by tough-guy CEOs. We want real value, built by people with character, dignity, and courage."

Funny, those are the same things I want. And, I believe, they are the things my colleagues and friends want. Yes, there are some really 'old' people who still think they can run business by using Dick and Jane methods - but they are fewer and more far-between than ever before. Those "old" people have been stuck in the 20th century for so long, they're rooted to their front porch rockers.

Umair needs to get out more often. He needs to meet "old" people who are hip, and happy, and energetic, and fully behind him in creating a world of dignity, character, and courage. To his statement that, "The great crisis isn't going away, changing, or "morphing." It's the same old crisis --and it's growing," I say, "This is news? You think YOUR generation is going to make the changes that WE tried to make, and didn't? You think only old people drive SUVs? Only old people make bad business decisions? Only old people drink bottled water?"

I beg to differ, Umair. I see MANY of your generation doing ALL of the things you accuse us of. I see YOUR generation faltering, just as we did. I see YOUR generation stumbling along...the same way we did. Because, in the end, Umair, it isn't about us - it's about the world as a whole, and there are millions of other people beyond the boundaries of these United States who won't cooperate with you and your manifesto, and I challenge you to change THEM... because no matter how many of US you change, you will still face the masses of THEM - who are not willing to change. Their manifesto is one of me first - something you accuse us of.

I'm with you, even though I'm "old" your standards. While I don't have all the answers (and I don't think you and your generation have them, either), I have the desire. And the passion. And, the ability. And, I think, the friends.


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Yvonne DiVita

@Liz D - thanks for stopping by to share the conversation on this manifesto. We old folks have to stick together. LOL

Certainly, the term 'old' was his first mistake, IMHO. What's old, anyway? To someone, HE'S old!

Collaboration is key, between age groups, genders, and ideals. I'm all for the togetherness of exchanging thoughts and ideas, because no one has them all.

As Einstein (a real oldie but goodie) once said, "The key is to never stop questioning."

Yvonne DiVita

@George - same old, same old? It does seem to be so. We all think we are different than those who have gone before - but we are not, really. And, many of us want the same things but can't always find the right way to achieve them. Thanks for your comment. And, I'm of your generation - I don't think we were the 'worst'... again, just different. Even within our own groups - I know I was 'very' different. Never engaged in the hippie lifestyle, tho my children refuse to believe me.

Oh well. It's what we do now, today, that matters. And, I'm working for a better tomorrow... how about you?

Liz D. - Irvine, California

Cheers to your rebuttal of Umair's "manifesto" -- and not just because I'm in my early forties and on the cusp of being "old". I would argue that you (we) not only have the desire, passion, ability and friends to make the changes he described. We also have knowledge and experience brought on by our time on this earth. This is knowledge and experience that will help make better informed decisions, which in turn are more likely to lead to success. The bottom line is that if Umair and his generation are smart -- and I have no reason to believe they are not -- they will be sure to engage the "old folks" in their efforts to make change, rather than accuse us of being the reason for our society's demise.

George Black

There always have been and, I suppose, always will be arrogant, disrespectful fools in every generation spouting off about how everyone in the past was an idiot or corrupt and how this new group is going to fix it all. (My generation--coming of age in the 60s--may have been the worst.) It's amazing! The fantasy of kindness, tolerance and fairness is just as selective and limited as before. It's just that the contempt and rejection are reserved for different groups. "Everybody knows" who the "good" people and "just" causes are and which are the "bad". It's the same opera in a contemporary setting: all the roles are still present--it's just the actors who are different. Never fails...

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