I am of the Baby Boomer generation and I've been using technology for 25+ years.
So I have to laugh when I read articles suggesting Baby Boomers are a bunch of old, tech illiterate dinosaurs.
OK, maybe the calendar doesn't lie and we are getting up there in years.
But what's with this tech illiterate stereotype, already???
What prompted me to write this is a recent blog post I read about entrepreneurs and technology. The post basically made the point that you should dumb-down technology for Boomer entrepreneurs. It was written by a 20-something tech blogger. (Said blogger shall remain nameless to protect the guilty.)
Here's a news flash for Gen Xers, Gen Yers and Millennials:
Millions of Baby Boomers have been using computers, software, and other technology for more years than you have -- in some cases since before you were born.
For example, I have many more years of experience under my belt using computers, software, and telecom technology than the younger people who work for me. And I started back in the day when technology wasn't nearly as user-friendly as it is today. Two decades ago we had to overcome a HUGE learning curve just to do simple activities that today most people take for granted -- like number crunching, or creating a presentation, or setting up a computer network, or emailing, or building a website, or setting up voice mail for your company.
And here's my main point: there are millions of Baby Boomers just like me.
Many Baby Boomers (and pre-Boomers) held jobs in corporations requiring them to learn and use technology years ago. Who do you think designed, built and implemented all that technology in the '70s, '80s and '90s? Aliens from another planet? Baby Boomers made up the cross-functional teams that are responsible for the first or second or third generation of computing technology in America's corporations.
And it's not just the corporate weenies. Academicians, scientists, engineers, medical professionals -- all used technology daily.
Boomers who worked in factories also had to learn to use computers a long time ago. (Have you been in a factory in the last 20 years and seen all the technology?) Same goes for UPS drivers, utility workers, bank tellers, clerical workers and others in other blue/pink collar jobs. They've been using technology for years.
And when, after years of working for the man, we decide to start our own businesses, we bring that tech experience with us to our own entrepreneurial enterprises.
I'll grant you that some Baby Boomers are less tech savvy than others. And, yes, some even have a hard time with technology. But you'll find examples of that among ANY generation.
The fallacy of statistics is that if you generalize and dismiss an entire generation as tech laggards, you will surely miss the mark with millions of Boomers -- who, in fact, may be technology trailblazers, not laggards.
Allow me to share a few voices of reason about the folly of stereotypes based on generations:
(1) Rich Newman in an article in MediaPost says it perfectly when it comes to the Internet:
" ...we seem intent on fostering the myth that the Internet is the province of the young, that online is an ineffective way to reach boomers--particularly older boomers--and you might as well forget social media when thinking about older consumers. And nothing could be farther from the truth."
(2) Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By says it when she takes on another blogger who reached faulty conclusions about technology and older workers, stating:
"Apparently, [the blogger] is unaware that most boomers are still active in the workforce (the oldest are 62, youngest 44) with a probable majority familiar with computers and the distances they cover. He probably doesn't know, either, that people 65 and older are going online in record numbers which does, necessarily, involve use of a computer."
(3) David Wolfe, author of "Ageless Marketing," writes regularly about how making judgments based on age often leads to the wrong conclusions, noting recently:
"As I have said before in this space, I have fathered 3 boomers, 2 Gen Xers and 1 Millennial. As expected, they are all different, but at the same time, they all went through the same stages, with pretty much the same worldviews and very much the same needs. And as I have also said in this space, the partitioning of the population into generational groupings is fraught with peril."
So if you are one of those people lumping Baby Boomer entrepreneurs into low-tech stereotypes or dismissing them as old fogies incapable of understanding technology -- try getting out more. You've lived a sheltered life.