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The Perspective of a Nexter

My brother at Bethel University asked me to answer a few questions for a paper he is working on for an Organizational Behavioral class. Apparently I represent the 'Nexter' generation (1980-2000). Here are the questions and my responses; kind of interesting stuff to think about (especially question #2).

Q: What do you or people your age think about the older generation of people, like our parents and why? (for example- old, slow, smart, wise, patient, lazy/ hardworking, stubborn, crazy, fun etc.)

Let me preface by saying that these reflections from my own mental collage of stories, research, documentaries and conversations. They are in no way authoritative, and they make no claim to be 100% accuracy or inerrancy.

I think that my parents grew up during a time of societal transition (late 50's and early 60's). The people of my grandparents generation were hard-working folks influenced by the lasting effects of the Great Depression and ongoing global conflicts (WWII). They were people who put in 100% effort everyday, saved money, lived at a slower pace and enjoyed life's small luxuries like iced tea on the front step of a home. They were deeply patriot with conservative values and modest lifestyles.

My parents’ came along right at the end of my grandparents era, just before the next major wave of societal life. In short, they came at a time when social attitudes about how life should be lived were shifting. The focus was moving away from society as a whole and more towards individualism. The hard-working entrepreneurial spirit that had long characterized American citizens, morphed into a self-centered, do whatever feels good attitude. People began to glamorize lazy, carefree hippies who only thought about doing things to please themselves.

I look at back the 40’s and 50’s and imagine it as a time when people worked hard and enjoyed life. People cared for their country and they cared for one another. There was a priority on values like determination, loyalty, courage, community and discipline.

I look at the 60’s and 70’s as a time when people worked only if they had to and they searched for whatever pleasures they could find. People cared about themselves and their own feelings. They placed a premium on individual experience and rebelled against many of the values held by previous generations.

Q: What historical or cultural events have helped to shape your life today?

A few of the historical events that have shaped my life have been the falling of the Berlin Wall, the events of Tienanmen Square and the current Iraq War. Not that I remember the first two well, but they are events that re-shaped the world I was growing up in. I think these events were heralds of the expanding globalization in our world and the collapse of many previous held notions about how the world should work and who should be involved in deciding it. Currently I think the ongoing war in Iraq is having a profound effect on the political and relational landscape of America. It is dividing people and causing all kinds of strife.

Some of the other events that have influenced my life are the present advancements of technology (specifically the Internet) and medicine, the increasing worldwide AIDS pandemic, the ‘emerging’ movement with evangelicalism, the ideological rise of post-modern thought, and the mounting conversation about and fear of terrorism.

Q: Has, and if so, technology influenced your life? Do you believe your generation is more adapt to technology than previous (I.e- Baby Boomers or Veterans).

Technology has had a major influence on my life. The invention and continued expansion of the personal computer and the Internet has made global collaboration in business, creativity, thought sharing and relationships possible in ways that weren’t even imaginable 20 years ago. My generation is increasingly dependent on technology for all aspects of our lives.

The explosion of text messaging, blogging and online social networking (Facebook/MySpace) proves that young people’s lives are more and more tethered to technology. With more children than middle age men using computers (I would guess this is true anyway) I think that we are at a point as a culture where technology, and the general publics expectations for its development and use, will continue to grow at a pace that it never has before. Previous generations were amazed and fascinated by technological advances; today’s young people are much less in awe and much more in expectation of what can be made and how they can use it to better their lives.

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