Cartoon of the week

Anne says: Another gem from Gaping Void that will likely resonate with many Learning and Development (L&D) practitioners. And to the rest of the business that ask L & D to run a course to fix a business process or culture problem – the course might be fabulous, but the problem will still be there.

The Geriatric Millennial

Jakkii says: Just when I think articles about ‘generations’ can’t get any more ridiculous, along comes someone to correct me. Case in point: the geriatric millennial.

Gen X has become an almost forgotten generation (note they don’t even appear at all in the tweet above!), and Millennials (aka Gen Y) have been the subject of much ridicule and handwringing over recent years. Thanks in part to the internet, the experience of growing up for Gens X & Y was really quite different. But there’s also a microgeneration in between Gen X & Gen Y that, in general, had a mix of the two experiences: no internet in the early years, before the internet starting making its way into homes during their tweens and teens. That mix means they don’t typically fit neatly into either Gen X or Gen Y (if anyone even really does).

Enter, apparently, the Geriatric Millennial.

21 Dec 2005 — Elderly Woman Looking at Laptop Computer Screen — Image by © Envision/Corbis

I was baffled when I first saw this term, and even more so when the author of this week’s piece claimed to have initially thought it an oxymoron before, perplexingly, deciding it “perfectly” describes this microgeneration with a fuzzy explanation that seems to conflate having used AOL Messenger and MySpace with being somehow more in tune with professionalism and body language. More bizarrely, the word geriatric doesn’t just mean “old”, it relates to their specific, special needs with regards to healthcare. This concept of effectively needing special care because of your age is in direct opposition to the point the author is trying to make, which is that this microgeneration doesn’t need extra help, and is in fact uniquely placed to bridge the divide between Gen X and older, and Gen Y and younger.

Hilariously, the author of the original piece posted a follow up in which they appear puzzled by the reaction to the use of the term ‘Geriatric’, and then mentions that others suggested different terms as if those terms didn’t exist prior to her publishing her article. Either you’re being disingenuous, or you didn’t do any research. If you’re going to dismiss existing terminology in favour of your own, more clickbaity choice, at least own it instead of pretending you’d never heard the word Xennial before.

While Dhawan makes a valid point in this follow up that there’s nothing wrong with being old (and this is an especially important point for women), being 35-41 is hardly old. Dhawan is right in that the medical profession calls pregnancies in older women “geriatric pregnancies”, but it’s because they need special care due to the mother’s age. It doesn’t mean we should embrace the idea of calling people in their mid-30s and early 40s geriatrics because they don’t need singling out or special attention in the workplace. And not calling this age group geriatrics I think is particularly important for women, who are even more likely to suffer from issues of ageism than men, and face ageism earlier than men as well. While some may argue that’s all the more reason to embrace and normalise the concept of growing old, I’d argue instead it plays into ageism and our obsession with youth.

But, of course, we can’t simply leave it at that, and this week there’s been a range of articles from “What the hell is a ‘geriatric millennial’ and how to find out if you’re one” to “How geriatric millennials—and marketers—can embrace the new label” (yeah, no thanks) to “Help! I’m a geriatric millennial”. Quite a few of them write that a ‘new’ microgeneration has appeared on the scene, proving once again there’s a dearth of quality journalism out there these days and that even a simple Google search is apparently too much to ask before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

Ultimately, whatever you think of ‘geriatric millennials’, the points the author of the initial piece was making about this microgeneration in the workplace were completely overshadowed by the choice of terminology. It’s an excellent reminder that words matter, and we should choose them carefully. We need to consider how others might interpret our words, and take care not to be offensive.

Unless, of course, creating a storm in a teacup is your entire purpose. In which case, well done Dhawan, mission accomplished.

Now, get off my damn lawn.


Friday Fives

Future of work and the hybrid workplace

Remote work and the digital workplace

Communication, collaboration, engagement, and culture

Community management, moderation and misinformation

Privacy and data

Big Tech and Regulation

Social media


This is interesting: The untold story of how Florence Nightingale used data viz to save lives

Things that make you go hmmm: The bizarre story of the inventor of ransomware

Space: When will the first baby be born in space?

Podcast: The Return Part 2: hitting the pandemic wall

Friday playlist: Ultimate Friday playlist

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