We have become expendable. Those of us born between 1946 and 1964 are called Baby Boomers, or just Boomers. We seem to be getting under foot of late. We cannot keep up according to the younger generation. Our ways are the ways of the old and sometimes even the infirm. OK, Boomer.
Now before you take offense at this (if you are over 68), I want to place myself as exhibit A in Boomer Obsolescence. I am now sure that I could not function in the current business climate for a number of reasons.
First, I cannot stand zoom meetings and yet they seem to be the way business is done now. I cannot read a room I am not in. I cannot bond with a face on a screen. Perhaps such in-person human interactions are no longer needed to get business done. I would still need them and I would be a zoom disaster despite having had ample practice using the technology for board meetings and interviews and even doctor visits.
Second, as a professional, I never thought about work-life balance. When I cared for patients, they came first no matter what. When I ran a laboratory, the data were everything. My integrity and my reputation relied on the reproducibility of what I discovered. Without that, I had no career. Whatever it took, and whenever, that’s what came first. Does that mean I was an absentee father sometime? Yes. Did I do experiments in the middle of the night to get the right time point? Yes. Even as an administrator, when a faculty member needed permission from the FDA to use a drug that was experimental in humans on a Saturday, I spent the day with my associate VP trying to find someone at the FDA to clear the drug use. We succeeded. That was the job. That was my life.
Work-life balance? What’s that?
Third, being on time. This seems to be optional and lateness is forever forgiven. I don’t get this. Recently I had to interview a candidate for a job and the candidate was ten minutes late zooming in and then could not work the computer. That was enough for me, but not for my younger interviewer colleague who saw nothing wrong with having to fiddle with technology for twenty minutes before we could start the interview. I admire her patience. Hers is greater than mine.
Fourth, sending an email is completing a job. No, it’s not. Sending an email and getting a cogent response is doing a job. If I ask you to contact someone and you think you’ve done it because you sent an email or text, you are not. Communication is in two directions. Your responsibility does not end because you sent the email. Besides, we need to reteach telephone skills to our young colleagues. The telephone is a marvelous device and far better for true communication than email. I understand the benefit of the time shift that email allows, but unless the communication loop is closed, there has been no communication.
These are some of my pet peeves and probably the same as those of many of my fellow Boomers. But ours is not the way of today.
My son constantly reminds me of how our generation screwed things up. Well, if we sowed the seeds of today’s business environment, I fear he is exactly right.
I have no solution to all of this and since I am retired, I don’t have to synthesize one. Those in charge now, the young ones, will call the tune. It’s full speed ahead with zoom meetings, emails, texts, emojis, tardiness, and an overall lack of accountability.
The next generations ask, “how can it be my fault? I always got a trophy for participating in soccer.” Boomers only got trophies for winning.
Dr. Zwelling’s new novel, Conflict of Interest: Money Drives Medicine and People Die is available at:
on amazon if you search using the title and subtitle,
directly from the publisher Dorrance at: https://bookstore.dorrancepublishing.com/conflict-of-interest-money-drives-medicine-and-people-die-pb/