One of the results of the rapid change we are experiencing in modern times is that people are getting older younger.

Let me explain.

Today, if someone is forty years old in the high tech industry and for some reason is unemployed and searching for work, he (or she) will probably find it difficult to find employment. No one will tell them why, because it is against the law to discriminate on the basis of age. But, the reason is clear: old age. Too old.

My God!!! Too old at forty.

If your professional experience has been connected to the internet or to a web based field and you are suddenly unemployed, you will find that forty is not old, but ancient. Employers are on the lookout for the more recent graduates, men and women in their twenties-those with the latest, cutting edge education.

My son is a musician. At the age of 19, he left college because he claims, in new age music, electronic music (which he writes) if he does not make it by 23, he will have been passed by. Almost obsolete. No chance of making it at all. Too old.

The reason is obvious: change. Social taste in fashion and in music is changing very rapidly. And the new technology— blink and you miss some major development—is driving the change. You must be capable of learning continuously, and learning fast at that. Unfortunately, this ability to learn quickly diminishes with age, and employers do not want to cope with it; do not want the burden of retraining someone.  This is my understanding.

In the past, a generation was considered to be 33 years long.  Today, I suggest to you it is no more than ten years, if not less.

I have six kids. They are 38, 37, 36, 30, 29 and 19. My immediate family consists of five DIFFERENT generations. That’s how many congregate at home over holidays and/or birthdays. Myself is one (76). My wife is a different generation. She is twenty years younger (56). The three oldest children 38, 37 and 36 are the third generation. The 30 and 29 year old are the fourth, and the “baby” at 19is the fifth generation.

How do I know? We speak five different languages. Have five different value systems. Different expectations from life. Different life styles. I am not the only me who says this. The children say that about each other.

This phenomena that we are getting older younger has many repercussions.

Alas, just because one is older does not necessarily mean anymore he is smarter or even more knowledgeable.

I feel like an idiot when confronted with the new electronic devices I can barely handle. I turn sheepishly (or in frustration) to my teenager son who has to explain to me what to do and how to do it. In the process, I feel my authority as a parent slipping away from me. Instead of father teaching son, it is now the reverse: son teaching parent.

Authority gets shaken, if not undermined. And, the hierarchy within the family is fractured.

Nor is it necessarily easier on the younger generation. Today, the pressure on young professionals to make it early or be left behind is much heavier than when I was young.

This generational divide defines major changes which used to take thirty years to unfold and be recognized. Now it takes ten years.

What does this bode for the future? Every five years a new generation? Three years? Being considered too old and “over the hill” at 23… and not just in music, but in fashion, and science and who knows what else? What is the future? Teenagers running the world?

They might know the technology and the latest fads, but emotionally they are not grown up yet.

What we are seeing and experiencing, is the imbalance between emotional maturation and career development.

In my analysis of this phenomena, this roller coaster change is detrimental to us as a society. But, it cannot be stopped. We need to find ways to accentuate the spiritual and emotional development of our children, sooner and faster.

Or else.

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes