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Jan 1 2009   1:47PM GMT

Millennials vs. Boomers Smackdown: Talkin’ ’bout my generation

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

grown-up-digital.jpg In his Ramblings from a glass half full blog, Terry Starbucker posted a refutation of Don Tapscott’s paean to the millennial generation, Grown up Digital. Here’s the post: Generational Smackdown: Baby Boomers vs. The Millennials

Starbucker was reading Harry Hurt III’s review of Grown Up Digital in the NY Times.

Tapscott’s thesis? Get this:  Millennials are “smarter, quicker, and more tolerant of diversity than their predecessors.” Well, I’ve got to say — that smarts!


His thesis, based on interviews with nearly 10,000 people, is that as the first generation that came of age in the Internet era, the Millennials are “smarter, quicker, and more tolerant of diversity than their predecessors”

Why? Because of the “collaborative” nature of the Internet. Us older folks, baby boomers weaned on the one-way medium of television and radio, were apparently dumber, slower, and less tolerant at a similar age.

I know and love a goodly number of the Y gen. I’m even related to quite a few. And they’re a wonderful bunch of people. In some circumstances I’ve even seen them demonstrate that type of evolutionary superiority — say, perhaps, in the last hours of a big, multigenerational party. Before they were old enough to drink.

Those days are done. They may quite likely best us in a partying contest, should we agree to take them on. And, (harrrumph) on behalf of not only myself and my fellow Boomers but also my dear (also smart, quick and tolerant) friends, the Gen Xers, I am officially affronted. On a good day, we’re as smart, quick and tolerant as any of the millennial generation. And — hey! — I’m sure they have their bad days too.

Starbucker soundly refutes eight “norms” that supposedly illustrate Gen Y superiority. Here’s a sample:

Tapscott: M’s scrutinize everything. Starbucker: BB’s didn’t have the Internet to research everything under the sun in seconds flat, but that didn’t stop us from hitting the library or the good ol’ encyclopedia if we really needed the straight scoop. Or better yet, actually having a face to face conversation with someone to pick up those nuances missed on those text messages.

Pound for pound, I maintain that a good representative of the Baby Boomers could go head-to-head and toe-to-toe with a similar representative of Gen Y. Or Gen X, for that matter. Once you control for age, of course. We were quick! We were smart! (Note: Do not read foregoing in Grampa Simpson voice.) Tolerance? Puh-lease. We invented it. That and sex.

K, I’ll admit I haven’t read Hurt’s review of Grown up Digital, let alone the book itself. And I guess I shouldn’t be too upset at Tapscott because I know what generation he belongs to. 

Here’s a hint: Not Gen Y. Not Gen X. Nope, Tapscott went to school with my husband, which places him firmly among the rest of us knuckle-draggers in the Baby Boomer generation.

~ Ivy Wigmore

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