If I had a dollar for every article I’ve read about how the business world is readying itself for the millennial workforce, I might not be insanely rich, but I could at least take pretty swank trip to Spain with my loot. I know this because I’ve written a bunch of those articles, and dozens of others for research. And each time I do, I think, “Wow. Would have been pretty cool if the world cared so much about this 10 years ago, when this millennial was entering the workforce.”
Ah. The woes of a millennial elder. Though the dates bookending my generation vary, the most common – and accurate, in my experience – call 1982 the dawn of the millennials. This means I am seven days away from being as old as millennial gets.
Now, of course the lines are blurry. I know people up to a year older than myself who definitely fit into my generation, and those a year or so younger who are startlingly Gen X-ish. But, by and large, if there a way to define a millennial elder, someone born in January, 1982 is about a close as it gets.
People love to hate connectivity. Crabbing about our “always on” culture is so commonplace, people even do it from their mobile phones. On social media.
This makes my skin crawl. As a freelance writer whose livelihood is only possible by being always on and the technology that allows it, it irks me personally, but there’s a larger reason why the complaint is wrongheaded.
Sure, having to answer an email on vacation or during dinner is annoying. It’s a small problem, and people do go overboard sometimes. But isn’t not being able to make dinner because you can’t leave the office worse? Or having to leave a vacation early to deal with a disaster?
Today, I am in Rockledge, Florida living out the evidence of why the ability to be always on gives me the ability to have a richer life. Doing what I do, it’s possible to decrease my work dramatically for a week, but it’s pretty much impossible to stop it altogether, unless I want to take a serious hit to my income. But here I am, able to spend a week with my grandmother, mom, aunt, uncle, sister, cousins and brand new nephew because I can work wherever I go.
Last night, I wrote a story at my aunt’s house. Today, I did an interview at Downtown Disney. Then I spent the rest of of the day enjoying my loved ones. I sent some emails from the car. Tomorrow I’ll work for about half the day and then snuggle with my nephew for the rest of the weekend.
If this is always on, I don’t ever want to be off.
The biggest synonym-related issue I keep bumping up against lately in my writing (as opposed to all of the other synonym-related issues) has been coming up with new ways to describe blurred lines. Hazy boundaries? Fuzzy fringes? Petering perimeters?
The thing that makes this rhetorical quandary interesting is that it’s not due to any one particular trend happening in one particular industry. I cover a number of topics, and in the last few months I’ve written about the blurring lines between brand publishing and advertising, engineering and medicine, women and tech leadership, art and economic development, media companies and technology firms, and, most recently, between urban and suburban places (coming soon!).
I’m sitting in my mother’s living room, trying to get some work done. It’s hard here. Not just at my mom’s house, but in my small hometown in general. I was born in Tawas City and grew up here. I feel like a kid here, always. I drink my mom’s Diet Cokes without fretting about the aspartame. I roll through stop signs. I nab dog toys from my dad’s vet clinic, and nobody seems to care. Nothing counts here, but in a good way. It’s like the magical protective dome of my childhood is still in tact and waiting to receive me each time I return.
I got to do something really special yesterday, which was be interviewed on a radio station about my new book immediately proceeding my singer/songwriter husband, who was interviewed about the tour he’s on. So, if you happen to be in touch with 14-year-old Natalie, please give her the following message: “Relax. Everything works out PERFECTLY.”
Lois, our giant white and black dog, wakes up every morning so excited that today is today. She loves today. Today, Lois feels, is the best day ever, every day. And why not? She doesn’t know about gridlock in Washington or women’s reproductive rights being under assault all over the nation, or how many extra bills popped up this month, or ongoing racial inequality or gender inequality or the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Also, she’s a dog.
Here in Michigan, with the exception of a handful of cities, you can be evicted from your home for being gay. You may also be fired for the same reason. I find that unacceptable. It’s actually unacceptable for everyone else in the state too, no matter what their political or personal beliefs are, because it’s turning the same people away from living here that we are investing so much time in money to attract.