How long is too long?
What is the proper length of a bar wide social event? Who decides what the proper length is and why is it right in the first place?
The analysis of this conundrum must begin with an understanding of the generational differences that govern our bar. Baby Boomer, Gen X and Millennial preferences in socialization are as diverse as hair color. Boomers, whose time as bar leaders is almost past, were raised with interaction and education by verbal communication. The images of parents talking among themselves on the back patio or front porch with the kids listening until they were ordered to bed are cemented in any Boomer’s mind and were the fabric of their existence. Boomers were raised on social interaction sprinkled with a light dose of television as the only electronic diversion. Monday Night Football didn’t occur until their adolescence and computers were forced upon them as young adults. Social interaction was lengthy, personal and direct for the Boomers, whose families spent hours socializing by talking directly with one another.
Gen X marked the beginning of electronic parenting. Pong was a fairly inane game; it replaced ping-pong, an exciting table game of skill, with a mundane beeping line crawling across your 19” TV screen. Following closely behind were the game consoles and the variety of arcade style games you could suddenly get at home. Boomers on summer vacation had begged their parents for change to go to the arcades and play these games. Gen Xers went simply went to the living room, flipped a switch and played these games for hours. Socialization would never be the same. Cable TV took over around 1982 and MTV replaced the CDs that had replaced vinyl records. People started looking and stopped talking to each other as much. Gen Xers discussed what they were looking at and conversations became shorter as their socialization time was increasingly consumed by the electronic devices they played with.
The Boomers raised a generation – the Millennials – who Boomers were determined to give every educational and social advantage available. The Boomers were mostly two income families. The advantages for the Millennials were mostly purchased. The boomers replaced patio conversations with electronic gadgets. With computer games for learning and laptops in middle school, the Millennials had every advantage money could buy. When Jeff Zuckerberg left Harvard and launched Facebook, to the chagrin of the Winkelvoss twins, the laptops their Boomer parents bought sucked their Millennial offspring into the screen like a Hoover upright. Apple’s Steve Jobs then shrunk the screen into the Millennials’ pockets and it went everywhere.
In the stretch from Boomer to Millennial, entertainment that became electronic became education became social. It is now common to go to an event and in the moment of excitement – be it great sporting achievement, moving musical segment or artistic work -and rather than applauding or cheering, watch the dutiful removal from the rear pocket of the electronic device to be pecked at in communication with some other device owner reciting the excitement the observer is currently viewing. The Boomer thinks the Millennial is missing out on an opportunity to cement a great memory with those who are around the Millennial. The Millennial could care less about that.
How then do Boomer leaders who want to spend hours talking to fellow bar members adjust to the new reality that a majority of the membership want shorter and perhaps more condensed interaction? The answer is to go with what the members want. Shrink time spent at events, make their agendas richer and shorter and make them easier to interact with electronically by signup or discussion on Mr. Zuckerberg’s platform. Provide events that are easy to share electronically. That gets the Millennials involved in a manner they understand.
The Gen X group is in a busy time. They are at the driving-the kids-to-the field age. Gen x is really the key to the great leveling of social events so the Boomers will find happiness with the Millennials. Once Gen Xers have moved through the raising children era, the will be able to find the time to mediate the divide between the Boomers and the Millennial children the Boomers. Now the challenge is to find the event that we can click on that will be rewarding for the Boomers who want to talk for hours, allow the Gen Xers to get to travel club team practice to pick up the kids, and be short and entertaining enough for the Millennials to attend. Quite a challenge, but one BCBA is prepared to meet. The next bar wide event is the Baltimore County Bar Association tailgate in Lot H of the Ravens’ stadium on October 19 before the Ravens – Falcons game. It will feature standard tailgate fare prepared by no less than six separate tailgates. There is no cost for attendance and beverages will be provided. We hope to see you there and we are determined to bridge this social gap.