“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” -Thoreau
I’ve barely been able to keep up over the last few weeks: Gentelligence is everywhere. I know, I know–maybe I’m seeing it everywhere because it’s pretty much where my head is at all the time these days. But there are signs of it everywhere I look. Here’s just a few examples…
The Vaccine Angels.
Two days ago, my brother-in-law (a Gen Xer) texted me that he had managed to snag two vaccine appointments online for my parents (both in their 70s). They’ve been on their county public health list for more than a month. No call so far. My brother-in-law is a high school teacher and has been proactively searching out vaccine appointments. After securing one, he used his internet savvy to see if he could get my parents signed up as well since they are also eligible in the current phase of the rollout.
He got them both appointments on Valentine’s Day. This means he’s our family’s version of a “vaccine angel”. That term has gained popularity in the last few weeks, referring to younger, tech-savvy citizens who are using their digital prowess to scour the internet to find those scarce vaccine appointments for seniors who need them the most (but are least likely to feel comfortable navigating the online space). That, folks, is a perfect example of Gentelligence in action.
I know there’s a lot of moving parts to the whole GameStop drama. I lack the stock market savvy to speak expertly about the nuances of what really happened. But from where I’m standing, a bunch of Millennials and Gen Zs banded together and used the tools that are clearly the stomping ground of their generations to pull off something fairly extraordinary (and I’m not alone in this view!)
As a (super hip and awesome) Gen Xer, I know Reddit exists. My 15 year-old often texts me Reddit threads that I don’t understand. But if my life or livelihood depended on navigating Reddit, I’d be in trouble. I have friends my age who heard about the Game Stonk rebellion and commented, “Man, I should have been in on that!” But really, we weren’t going to be.
Lack of Reddit-savvy notwithstanding, it’s unlikely those of us in our 40s and 50s (or beyond) were going to feel confident taking stock advice from the “Wolves of Reddit”. We weren’t going to follow a movement involving investing money led by a guy who went by the name “DeepF—ing Value” (or Roaring Kitty, if you check YouTube. Which we really don’t). We grew up believing that the stock market was a very SERIOUS business. Something best handled by well-dressed brokers and requiring the insights of a very serious, stable operation like a Charles Schwab. Gen Xers have been relatively willing to jump on the social media wagon, but for fun and entertainment, people–not stock tips. This was something that really could have only been pulled off by the Millennials and Gen Z, using the tools they understand better than the rest of us.
Super Bowl LV.
It was hard to find a news outlet that WASN’T talking about the age gap between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl LV. Brady, a Gen Xer, had 18 years on Mahomes (a Millennial, but barely). I couldn’t resist jumping on this–I know little about football, but I know a lot about generation gaps, age, and leadership–and those were all I could see when it came to the impending Super Bowl. My piece on what we look for in leaders of different ages appeared here in NBC News the day before the big game.
The White House.
I found the 2020 election intriguing in many ways, starting with the generational dynamics of the Democratic primary (a Millennial was in the mix for the first time, but Buttigieg didn’t resonate with his own generation–here’s my piece from last year on that interesting dynamic).
The front runners were from the Silent generation, which has NEVER had a president before, despite the youngest members of that generation turning 76 years old this year. Younger voters were turning out in numbers not seen in a while but weren’t necessarily voting for the candidates that were closest to them in age (Gen Z, as a general rule, loved Bernie. Have you seen the meme?).
Once Biden was announced as the Democratic candidate, his choice of Kamala Harris as a running mate energized his support. Harris herself was the subject of a generational custody battle, with both Boomers and Gen Xers making the case that she belonged in their generational tribe. I wrote about this phenomenon too–you can check it out here.
I will admit that I am on the lookout, which might be why Gentelligence is everywhere. But part of my mission is to help others begin to see it as well when they look at the world–it often is at the heart of innovation, and a lack of it is frequently the cause of misunderstandings and miscommunications. “Not Gentelligent!” and “That’s Gentelligence right there” are lenses through which I see so much now. How about you?