There have literally been thousands of articles written about the differences between Baby Boomers and Millennials. The reality is that while it makes a good story, it does not capture the full picture. There are more commonalities than you might think and there are things that both generations can learn from each other. But why should you care? Well, in the same way that many of us complain that our government can’t move forward without the two parties finding some common ground, our society can’t move forward productively without finding some generational commonalities. In the spirit of harmony, FirstLantic challenges some of the misconceptions that both sides have about each other and highlights the areas where they are more alike than not.
1. Technology has a time and place
While it is true that baby boomers did not grow up with the same access to technology that Millennials had, it is not true that they all are technically illiterate and don’t know how to use social media.In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, at least 65 percent of baby boomers aged 50-64 use Facebook. That said, some boomers could be more open to change and learn to use technology to improve their efficiency both in the workplace and at home. And some Millennials could use a lesson on the art of conversation and how important it is for building a better rapport with someone by speaking to them rather than just texting. The bottom line is that we all need to use technology to its fullest if we want to stay relevant but face to face interaction cannot be replaced when it comes to meaningful relationships.
2. Both generations have a social conscience
Although there is this stereotype that boomers only care about making money, many grew up in a turbulent societal environment and were very active in issues like Civil Rights. And while the issues facing our society may be somewhat different now, many Millennials are using their voice to make a difference. Whether using social media to put brands on notice or by volunteering for the causes that they support, they are dedicated to making the world a better place.
One area where they are not showing up however is at the polls as they do not believe that they can make as much of a difference in that way. So, while the social consciousness is there in both generations, they could both learn to use some of the other’s tactics.Boomers could increase the use of their incredible spending power as well as social media to make their voice heard and Millennials could get to the polls and vote (and not only in national elections).
3. Embrace change but don’t ignore history
While many boomers probably upset their own parents over their music, fashion, and lifestyle choices, they were determined to forge their own path. So why is that many boomers now wish for things to stay just like they were? The reality is that every generation goes through this. As we age, we tend to get a little more set in our ways, and we forget how valuable (and inevitable) it is for change to be the only constant.In the same way that boomers did not accept the norms of older generations, Millennials are anxious to make their own mark and that involves embracing new ideas and new cultural norms. However, that doesn’t mean that you ignore everything that came before you either. So, while boomers can try to rekindle their adventurous side, Millennials can also be more cognizant of the things that worked in the past and take advantage of those lessons.
So, while there will always be differences between generations, Boomers and Millennials have much in common and a lot they can learn from each other both in the workplace and at home. Let’s face it, many Boomers are actually parents to Millennials. And while the articles about the generational discord would make you think that they don’t see eye to eye, the opposite is actually true. For example a study referenced in a book called The Millennial CEO by Daniel Newman reveals that, like Baby Boomers, Millennials are also heavily swayed by the input of their family and friends when choosing a product. And MediaPost revealed that 72 percent of surveyed younger millennials (18-25) stated that they are loyal to all or many of the brands that their parents use. 56 percent of older millennials reflected this same loyalty to their parent’s selections.
Finally, when asked about their “best friend,” the overwhelming majority of Millennials named a Boomer: their parents.