Boomers Are the In-Person Generation

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?

Boomers Set to Celebrate Earth Day

This week the world will mark the 53rd anniversary of the first Earth Day. It was the bipartisan efforts of Senator Gaylord Nelson (D, Wisconsin) and Congressman Pete McCloskey (R, California) that led to establishing a national day to raise awareness of the effects of man-made pollution on our air, land and water. April 22, 1970 saw the launch of the first Earth Day. With the help of student environmental activist Denis Hayes, Senator Nelson and Congressman McCloskey were able to form a national network of teach-ins on college campuses. Additional environmental protests, demonstrations and talks were held on a local level throughout the country. Ultimately, 20 million people participated in the day-long event.

The day galvanized a nationwide movement that had begun with the release of Rachel Carson’s 1962 book on the dangers of DDT, Silent Spring. As a direct result of the widespread popularity of the first Earth Day, a bipartisan effort in Congress led to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency (signed into law by Richard Nixon). Immediately after its establishment, Congress passed numerous laws and regulations not only concerning the pollution of air, water and land, but requiring remedies to clean up any aftereffects of industrial development. In 1970, there was support for these efforts across every demographic in the country.

In 1990, Earth Day went global. That day set the stage for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit. Today the United Nations remains a steady voice in advocating for environmental protections in countries large and small.

This year, an estimated 1 billion people will take part in Earth Day activities.

In honor of our shared boomer history, Mister B presents to you this Earth Day playlist of music from the boomer years.

Pollution – Tom Lehrer (1965)
Mister B still remembers this one:

If you visit American City
You will find it very pretty
But there are two things you must beware
Don’t drink the water
And don’t breathe the air

Shapes of Things – Yardbirds (1966)
A plea six decades ago is still prescient today:

Please don’t destroy these lands
Don’t make them desert sands

What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong (1967)
Envisioning a place where we all want to live, Satchmo sang:

I see trees of green
Red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell (1970)
How can you not take these great lyrics to heart?

They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum…
Don’t it always seen to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Nature’s Way – Spirit (1970)
To the point:

It’s Nature’s way of telling you
Something’s wrong

Out In the Country – Three Dog Night (1970)
The lyric says it all:

Before the breathin’ air is gone
Before the sun is just a bright spot in the night time

Pollution – Bo Diddley (1971)
His guitar punctuated the lyrics:

We gotta keep America clean, honey
(We got to stop pollution)

Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology) – Marvin Gaye (1971)
Both a lament and a prayer:

Oil wasted on the oceans and upon our seas (Have mercy, please have mercy, Father)
Fish full of mercury (Please have mercy, Father)

Don’t Go Near the Water – The Beach Boys (1972)
Part of their environmental concept album, Surf’s Up:

Oceans, rivers, lakes and streams
Have all been touched by man
The poison floating out to sea
Now threatens life on land

Mr. Blue Sky – Electric Light Orchestra (1977)
A song that speaks about hope for a better day:

Mr. Blue Sky, please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Mister Boomer has posted about his personal experience on the first Day Day, and other environmental concerns. For additional reading:
Boomers Remember the First Earth Day
Boomers See Climate Change By Their Own Experiences

How about you, boomers? Did you have a connection to Earth Day or environmentally-conscious music?