When the new Gecom chairman was announced last week, the subject of age became a hot topic of discussion. One observer noted that our concerns about the age factor at the present time in our society really should be focused on a larger sector of the population, rather than one person. What are we doing about the millennials?

There are various definitions for the term millennials, depending on where one refers to, but a rather broad term would encompass persons born between the mid-1980s and early 2000s. This generation were largely the offspring of the baby boomers, the persons born between 1946 and 1964 when there was an explosion in the world’s population following World War II.

This generation of Guyanese, arguably our most precious resource are coming of age and are soon to be transitioning into positions of power and very soon will be running our society. The older generation, their parents and the elder society are experiencing difficulty in relating to the millennials on several fronts and there is growing concern as to where this will all lead to in the end.

Technology has a played significant role in this separation of the generations. The millennials, to their elders seem to function in altogether different dimension, often immersed in their iphones or notepads or lap tops or the latest technology device/flavour of the moment, quite oblivious to the fact that there is actually a world existing around them. Locked into this virtual world the younger generation appear to dwell on another planet, much to the chagrin of their parents.

While the older generation understand and appreciate the value of technology in improving the general well-being of life on earth, they find it difficult, and quite often irritating to relate to how fast technology has changed the way of life in a generation. The video-gamers generation (apparently these young adults are playing games on their devices) have flowed smoothly along with the passage of time, transitioning from one era to the next.

The millennials, unaware of their apparent parallel life to the real world, thrive on social media, moving from various platforms, more often than not, in the world of Facebook. The seemingly constant checking, texting and messaging has become a problem when they step into the real world of work and their inability to divorce themselves from their electronic gadgets is proving to be an employer’s nightmare to say the least. Separating the millennials from their addictive gizmos is proving to be quite a challenge. Employers, in some instances, have resorted to banning electronics from the work area to force their employees to concentrate on the job at hand.

Ironically, the parents and the grandparents have contributed this dilemma, by, in wanting the best for their kids, they provided the video games and the other forms of technology which has created this scenario, where instant gratification has become the norm, and patience is fast becoming a long lost art.

Alas, all is not lost. Here in Guyana, we are starting to see the value in our millennials. Last month, the Ministry of Public Telecommunications announced the winners of the competition it had sponsored to develop an app which will link local farmers, producers and processors with international buyers in a single online market place. Given three weeks to develop the app, the winning three-man team, average age twenty-three years old, declared that their final product still needed to be fine-tuned before it could become fully functional. In layman terms, they were quickly and lucidly able to explain to the older generation the pitfalls in our current state of development that still need to be rectified to make the app a reality.

In so doing, they were able to shed light on the areas where we are lacking. The leader pointed out we will need a grading system for the produce, the development of logistics for shuttling to points of export, and a facility to confirm payments to our farmers, a policy that the Bank of Guyana is still working on.

Technology is here to stay, whether, we, the older generation, like it or accept it, or not.  Can the millennials dovetail their virtual world and reality, to live in harmony with the baby boomers?

Can anyone write an app that will allow the millennials to put away their devices, develop patience, concentrate at work and return to planet earth occasionally? The older generation would be instantly gratified.


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