Over the past few years, technology has advanced to such a degree that it enables people in the workplace or social situations to communicate through a screen instead of in person. This choice was hardly imaginable in the boomer years. In fact, the contrast between lifestyles of then and now completely illustrates that boomers were the in-person generation.
Wherever and whatever needed to be done, boomers had to physically be there to do it. Take banking, for example. Mister Boomer remembers when he got his first full-time job after college. Every Friday he’d be standing in a bank line to cash his paycheck. Although ATMs existed in some areas since 1969, the early machines were only cash dispensers and could not accept deposits. Whether you needed to make a deposit or withdrawal, apply for a mortgage or other loan, or were looking for traveler’s checks for an upcoming vacation, it warranted an in-person trip to the bank.
Before boomers became part of the workforce, they were students. Then, as now, students were required to research select subjects and write reports, essays and papers. In order to do the necessary research, boomers had to visit the nearest library; usually, multiple in-person visits to the actual library building would be necessary to complete a project. The fact that the same type of research can now be done on a phone device that you keep in your pocket was science fiction in the boomer years.
Likewise, school itself was an in-person requirement. Classes were held in classrooms with other students and a teacher, not on an electronic device. Studies are still being conducted to identify the positive or negative aspects of this new capability, but for boomers, the only way a student could stay home from school was if a snow day was declared, and that meant no classes that day. Ironically, in some areas, school districts are now looking at eliminating most sick or snow days because of the online schooling option.
If you wanted to see family or friends who lived far away, you had two choices in the boomer era: get in the car and drive to see them, or board a plane or train to their destination. Long distance phone calls were expensive, and as a general rule were not used for casual catching up. An in-person visit was the only way to see their faces and speak with them. Now, of course, “visiting” anyone anywhere in the world via a screen is only a few clicks away.
Mister Boomer does not mean to imply that one is better than the other. He is merely an observer, pointing out how boomers have lived though historical happenings in all aspects of technological breakthroughs and changes to societal norms. Think about that the next time you ponder the history boomers have witnessed.
How about you, boomers? Do you miss the in-person requirements, or welcome the ability to proceed through your day as you wish?