Last month, I wrote about inflation. Riveting stuff, I know. However, in that column I twice used the phrase, “When I was your age…”, a line that has been used by older generations the world over to express, often with disdain, how the times have changed. Then, it hit me like a double shot of espresso. I’ll likely find myself using the same expression on the young whippersnappers of tomorrow.
More interesting, I thought, is why I would be saying it. What has changed so much that I would find myself using it? Would I be saying it with a tone of belittlement because of how difficult things used to be and how jealous I am of how they currently are? Or will I be saying it with a tone of excitement because of how much easier things have become and how excited I am for the future?
As an eternal optimist, I have my money on the latter. I can’t ignore the direction and trajectory we’re heading in across many important facets of our lives. Technology is too good and moving too fast. Moore’s Law has certainly blessed us. So, I thought it would be fun to look at some examples of what’s already changed and what could change again by looking at the chronological progressions of “When I was your age…” from Boomer to Millennial.
Payments: When I was your age…
Boomers: …we wrote a check.
Millennials: …we inserted a card.
The battle to dominate the mobile payment market is white hot. Data compiled by Allied Market Research has indicated that the mobile payment market was valued at $601 billion in 2016 and is expected to hit $4.6 trillion by 2023. In addition to that mind-blowing number, blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are giving big names in the payment space like PayPal, Visa and MasterCard more to worry about when it comes to the fight for market share.
There’s little debate that we’re heading into a cashless world. I personally try to use carry as little cash as possible. For example, over the weekend, I shamelessly charged $1.50 for a cupcake for Hazel.
When it comes to payments at the counter, I prefer to tap my iPhone if and when possible. Like most people, I find inserting credit or debit cards into chip readers inferior than good old swiping. For payments between people, apps like Venmo make paying for the babysitter and friends a cinch. Who would upset about this evolution? Not me.
Transportation: When I was your age…
Boomers: …we parked our cars.
Millennials: …we drove our cars.
Last year, I wrote “Commuting Sucks” to lament about just how awful traveling long distance or for long periods of time to one’s job can be. Unfortunately, things aren’t getting better. However, automation, as we are continually told, is on its way to both solve all of life’s problems (and steal everyone’s jobs) with transportation being no exception.
In one of my favorite Spielberg/Tom Cruise movies, “Minority Report”, we see a futuristic version of our world where transportation has become fully automated. No more traffic and no more accidents. It was one of my favorite looks into the future in the film because it all seemed so obtainable. Sure enough, were on our way to a world like that today.
However, as a self-appointed “car guy”, saying goodbye to driving altogether doesn’t sit well with me, which is why I appreciated the movie even more. In one scene, John Anderton (played by Cruise), seamlessly transitions his vehicle from automated driving in the city to manually cruising through the countryside. Without that feature, you already know what I’ll be saying to the kiddos of the future.
Education: When I was your age…
Boomers: …we got a job after high school.
Millennials: …we went to college after high school.
You’ve heard it before, “The college degree is the new high school diploma”. While the stats tell us that college graduate makes $500,000 more over a 30-year career than someone without a college education, they don’t tell the whole story such as the growing misalignment of higher ed with the labor force of today and the increasingly high costs of obtaining a college degree.
Critics of our schools and educational systems will go on to argue that how we learn is antiquated. They suggest that memorizing various facts and figures simply to pass standardized tests is impractical when it comes to preparing individuals for the real world and the jobs of tomorrow and that grouping us all together in a classroom setting breeds conformity. There’s also the lack of technology as many classrooms still don’t have computers in them.
I hope for a world where there are better post-secondary schooling options than simply getting a job or going to college. With the rise of alternative methods like technology bootcamps and online courses from reputable services like Coursera, we appear to be moving in that direction. I’d also like to see us once again embrace technical approaches still relevant to today’s industries instead of taking a less-than-collegiate stance.
Financial Advice: When I was your age…
Boomers: …we traded with a stockbroker.
Millennials: …we collaborated with a financial planner.
Brokers are out. Planners are in. You’re crazy if you think the days of slinging stocks and other securities via your broker will be making a comeback any time soon. The value of a financial service professional is concentrated in the level of planning, advice and service they can deliver. Investments and transactions are secondary to these core value drivers.
Then came the robots or “robo-advisors” as the humans in their respective marketing departments like to call them. I call them the nail in the broker’s coffin because nothing demonstrated the commoditization of the securities industry like the robos did. But that didn’t stop the media from hyping them up as the grim reaper for advisors and planners alike!
Nonetheless, the robots decided they still needed us humans as they had yet to crack the code of collaboration, compassion and relatability, which are seemingly important when you’re dealing with emotional creatures and the often emotional components of personal finance. Now we have a hybrid relationship between man and machine, but how long will it last?
Information: When I was your age…
Boomers: …we looked it up in the library.
Millennials: …we Googled it.
The internet changed the game for everything and everyone. From sharing research and ideas to finding your soulmate and community, the digital age makes anything that happened before it appear prehistoric. What can be more profound then how we share information?
Yet, we currently wield electronic devices in our hands or place them on our laps to engage our digital worlds. You see where I’m going with this, right? When will that become prehistoric? Is it too far out there to think that our brains and technology will soon be intertwined Am I living in a science fiction fantasy to believe we won’t create a neural network capable of instantaneously transmitting information across billions of people?
At the very least, I bet you’d agree that we will glance back at pictures of us staring into our devices and say, “Look how stupid I looked!” Maybe wearable technology will be the bridge to integrated biotechnologies? I don’t know, but it sure is fun to think about. Just let me know when I can say goodbye to this decaying body of mine.
This post originally appeared on my blog.