Something I Don’t Normally Do

I have the privilege of presenting to the Indiana Rural Health Association’s spring conference in early March. That’s not unusual, I do a lot of presentations in such settings. The unusual thing is that my topic is “Generational Differences.” I haven’t done that yet as a presentation. This is the first time.

You’re probably like me. You’ve sat through a “generational difference” presentation before. In my case, I’ve heard presenters tick off the various things that the emerging generation in the workforce doesn’t know or never lived through–the 1980s, 3-network TV, cassette tapes, VCRs, and so on. Then, typically, the presenter will veer into attitudes unique to the younger generation in question, be it X, Y, Millennial, Echo Boomer, or whatever.

I’d like to approach it differently. I’ll say some short version of these standard points, to be sure, but I think there’s other stuff that needs to be tackled. One of them is the danger of relying on marketing-driven research as the basis for defining and understanding generations. It’s valid enough, I grant you. The problem is that it’s where our thinking begins and ends; we don’t dig deeper. I want to encourage my listeners to dig a whole lot deeper, using a creative approach to history as our tool. No surprise there.

Another point I’ll make is that we tend to crunch generations too tightly in our current state. I guess that’s not a shock given that our reliance on instant media communication does the same thing with rumors, data, information, and the rest. Here’s what I mean–in past times, generations were thought of in 20 to 30-year spans or more, like grandparents, parents, and children. Now, though, we have reduced the time frame of so-called generational differences down to less than 10 years. I think that’s rather self-indulgent.

You can see where I’m headed. My presentation on generational differences will look significantly different from the norm.