3 Jun 2015

I miss the days...

... when I thought I had all the answers.

...when self-reflection had an element of self-praise. Sometimes we really need that pat on the back, that voice that says "good going, girl, you made it". But the problem with adulthood is that it's very very free of those voices. Everyone's busy with their own struggles, and we're meant to be our own sources of motivation. Reach for the stars, and give yourself your own gold stars, because no one else is going to do it for you.

Small wonder then, that the search for acknowledgement, and sometimes for adulation, drives people to such extremes - photoshopped selfies and uncensored reality shows - when you can't find your happiness inside yourself, where else would you look but outside?

13 Nov 2014

Shades of blue

Call me cyan
If you can.
Or is it azure
That’s du jour?
Break me apart-
Tear into
The meat
Of my spirit
Draw on 
Your pseudo-intellectual
To look behind, beyond
The joie
The construct
And find out
If jouer
Was what it seemed
Or was rendered ungrammatical
By a slip of a tongue
In joue
What goes down
In history
Will it come up
The same?
Or transformed
By your metamorphosis
Will it take the shape
Of its container?
Liquid, the flow-
Er- it bloomed
Into a dimension
Unseen, unheard of
But was it?
We go on
Our lives
Passing, past
Parsed for all we know.
And the show
As it must
Must go
On and on
Into infinity
Colour compressed
Into one little dot
As it fades off into
The cerulean
That eye-
Or is it I-
In seas
Of turbulent navy
Battle for supremacy
The upper hand 
Always holding
Off the final slap
A lapse into violent
But will you then say
I’m blue?

Yes. You may.

29 Oct 2014

The gaps in the generation bridge

Remember when people talked about a generation gap and meant the gap between your generation and that of your parents? Oh, for the simplicity of those days! We now have a gap between people born as little as four years apart. And no one - not parents, not schools, not workplaces- knows how to cope. What's even worse, those of my 'generation' are also looking around nonplussed, wondering where all these upstarts came from and how they're being wildly successful in ways we only dreamed but never could quite manage to reach.

What is it about those born in the 90's that makes them so aggressive in the pursuit of their dreams? The fevered rush seems to begin in middle school. While at their age, 'we' were thinking about our grades, our sports and maybe our crushes, kids now have found their passions and are going for them with a vigour once expected only from those in their early twenties. Sure, we had our outliers too, uncommonly driven schoolkids with a dream that burned so strong it fueled their every action. But this is more widespread than just the extraordinary individual.

The internet is an enabler, allowing access to more information, more choices, more everything. And so our childhoods are changing. The barriers that once separated 'the grown-up things' from children are coming down. Things that were passed through Chinese whispers, sometimes hopelessly mangled, are now available in intricate detail,with not just instructions but diagrams. This isn't a critique of the effect of the Information Age on children. What it is is an observation that no one (apart from the scientists, and for the most part. they're busy with other studies such as how many nose hairs it takes to create an effective noose) seems to have grasped that a fundamental change has taken place in how today's children or even young adults learn, think, make friends, interact with people and work. Yes, we've all read about the fabled Millennials and how they bring a curious combination of naivete, self-awareness and demand into our schools and workplaces. But how many of us have taken into account how this shift affects us, from a perspective other than that of milking them for every last drop of productivity they have to offer?

I met someone yesterday who spoke of the absence of human ties. "How", she asked, "can we convey emotion to them if we never meet them?" "In my day, there were tough times, but we helped each other through because we weren't just emailing each other, but creating a bond by meeting face to face. What's the point of an open door policy if no one walks in through that door?" So are Millennials a bunch of cold fish, untouched by the humans they encounter only by means of a computer screen? Or is it just that the way the same connections are formed  has changed? Is an online friendship just as valid as one in 'the real world'?

In offices where Baby Boomers are being told to change their management styles to better utilise the skills these new employees bring in, there's still a sense of "Why should we hand it all to them when we had to work for it?" But it isn't just Baby Boomers. Poor old Gen X (and some of the early Gen 'Y's) also had to roll with the system because they either didn't know how to game it, or they didn't have the self-assurance to pull it off. Self assurance that Millennials have in spades - if they ever used spades. And since people are finally coming around to their way of thinking since they figure that's the only way they'll ever get things done, they've no reason to put away said spades. The ones who worked with the old system, however - if they tried to change the way they behave now, they'd be being insubordinate, and would be treated as such.

Then there's the constant demand to 'show, show, show'. In the era of personal marketing, everyone's a salesman, and everyone is constantly shouting to be heard over the noise of everyone else shouting about what they've done. Forget letting your record speak for itself. If you aren't actively out there talking about it, it's washed away by the records of all the people who are talking about theirs. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, (blogs!) they're all there just waiting for you to make your mark. And if that mark isn't there, there is no record of you.

Then there are the people who ought to be called Gen Y, but are essentially just Gen X in transition, not having quite caught the Millennial bug as thoroughly as their date of birth indicates. Are these to be lumped in with the 'X's, or do new policies apply to them too? And would they know what to do with the new freedoms and expectations, or would they be as lost as those of previous generations? What about the Gen 'X's who were quick enough to catch on, throwing themselves in to positions like 'Social Media Guru' or 'Thought Leader', making their presence felt, and running the race so expertly that it's easy to forget that when they were growing up, the technical capabilities that are mainstream now would have been akin to magic?

Simple may be the new black in everything else, with minimalist approaches in everything from our smooth, sleek phones to de-cluttered web interfaces based around the user experience, but this complexity is here to stay. And as the pace of adoption of technology and of innovation accelerates, it's just going to get more pronounced.

We can hope that it all shakes down and sorts itself out - but wouldn't that then be antithetical to the "grab opportunity by the beard because the back of his head is bald" nature of the times?