It’s pretty funny to me how often I hear (typically) company execs talk about “millennials” (and lately “Gen Z”), referencing to them like you would do to a strange, new species in the animal kingdom. As someone being squarely in the Gen X bucket (and having found early social identity in Douglas Coupland’s seminal book), I find the whole labeling thing pretty hilarious. That being said, there is something to the idea that generations always had a somewhat hard time understanding each other.
Which brings me to my point: It always requires empathy and work to understand your customer; I would argue that this is even more so when you cross the inter-generational gap. Gen Z’s building products for the aging boomer population. Gen X’ers building hip & cool new apps for Gen Zs.
The following quip by Douglas Adams, the famed author who gave us The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is funny — but also to the point, and thus a good reminder and empathy-builder:
Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary, and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
Next time you shake your head seeing someone younger or older than you argue about tech — keep this in mind. It will serve you well.