Practica: Generational mindshifting


It is rather easy to look back at, or even down upon the lifestyle of previous generations when one is immersed in the tech tricks of the current age. How can we get in touch with what our mind is doing when it dismisses the past? Perhaps by dismissing our own present as past. Here's a little exercise that may help you do this if you're trying to deal with generational differences and biases. 

Take a picture or show an action clip from the past that shows something characteristic of that time and place. Pair it with a picture of the present that shows up the up-to-date characteristics of the generation you are dealing with. As an example, I've chosen a little video clip about milkmen as they delivered during my child – as you see we kids can even enjoy the fun of feeding the horse. I've paired it with a picture of the forthcoming latest 2017 iPhone. After showing about a minute of the video I asked people to identify what is the new dominant technology that is pictured as standard practice in delivering milk. The answer is hardly obvious, but it is the standardization of the glass milk bottle throughout the dairy industry.

I ask the participants to share their first impressions about the 1940s milkman and explore what they are inclined to feel as positive or negative interviewing the practice of this past generation. Then I show them the second image of the iPhone in this time ask them to imagine themselves 75 years in the future and from this frame of mind describe their images and feelings about the old technology from 2017 found in the picture. Computers I have owned are already museum pieces. What of theirs will be in the museums of 2092?

This leads to a discussion of how we view generational differences and how we might view them differently if we take a different generational perspective on our current culture that we take for granted. Nostalgia, appreciation, history, old stories. Our debriefing looks at questions like: How do they fit into our generational identity and how will our identity produce them and pass them on? How do we use them? How do we transcend them?

The idea for this exercise, germinated from my reading of The Millennial Promise. And, in case you haven't seen one, here is a...

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