I spent the day in a conference room today. What I noticed right away was what I also noticed at the talk given by Charles Cramer a couple of days ago. That is, most of the attendees - nearly all Baby Boomers - looked like they were gettin' up in years, a little long in the tooth. The subject today was Inflammation. What was on my mind, though, was irritation and startled amazement.
I think generally Boomers are doing fine monetarily. Their strides are still firm, and minds still sound. But hearing? Not so much.
While Mr. Cramer was talking, someone's cell phone began to "ring," a sound not even close to a ring, more a robotic squawking hip-hop/jazz/pop insanity sound. It rang and rang and rang. It rang some more and, I'm telling you, the sound was noticeable 15 feet away.
No one seemed to hear it. Maybe that's part of modern phone etiquette; you ignore everyone else's phones and pretend they don't sound exactly like something intended to make you beg for mercy, cry for your medication, wish a cloud of locusts on the perpetrator.
The phone over there across the aisle rang relentlessly and the owner did not move to shush it or answer it. No one seemed to hear the awful noise. Wait a minute...was I hearing things? Could the whole room have finally lost its hearing after all those rock concerts? After probably 20 rings, someone looked a little puzzled, began to rustle around and eventually found the still-ringing phone, fumbled with it at length and then silenced it. Finally! I wanted to applaud. I was so relieved, I can't tell you.
Today, at the seminar, another phone with a much more penetrating and irritating ring tone began to go off. It was a sound that I'm sure no one on the planet can say they enjoy hearing. Again, the people around the owner did not budge, didn't flinch, made no move whatsoever. "Well," I said to myself, "I guess they're calmer than I am. I should just sit here, too, and be more tolerant." That lasted about ten seconds. My amazement overruled my tolerance like a steamroller flattening a sandwich.
I got irritated and then embarrassed for the owner. How could they not hear it? I mean they were sitting three rows back from the speaker and listening without hearing aids, right? Then I was embarrassed for the speaker who was throwing all her energy and knowledge into her talk, valiantly trying to ignore the devilish phone. She was flinching, though, and so was I.
At long last, after an ice age, the owner came to her senses and groped around for the phone. She pulled it out, looked at it, punched a few buttons, even shook it. Worse yet, she got up and answered it, walking slowly out of the hall, wrapped up in some conversation. Yes, another Boomer, I'm sad to say. Oblivious, slowed, awareness long since faded away.
Where are the sharp innovators of our generation? Where is the political deftness, the anger in the belly, the creative geniuses we came to admire among our peer group? Looks like they've gone deaf and lost touch, from what I've seen lately.
Any kid born in the last 25 years can tell you how to use a cell phone, about 20 seconds after they put their hands on it. They'll know how to power it up, how to text, use the camera, send emails, record a short video, exchange contact info, change the ring tones, limit the number of rings, change the volume and actually make a phone call. All that in 20 seconds. A baby boomer can have their phone for a year and still not know how to answer it.
What happened to the Boomers? Are walkers next? Bibs? I can't handle this....
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way