If you're any kind of geek, you're probably aware of the “geek generation gaps” that many of us see. You know how it goes; there's the shows no one ever heard of (or should of heard of), the slang that you don't get (or you think is ancient), and so on. It may be a joke, it may be a source of frustration, but most of us are aware of it.
What has concerned me, in my various presentations at conventions and talks with assorted geeks and future pro geeks, is that this generation gap is going present problems not just for those of us that don't get particular memes, but it's going to make passing on professional geekiness harder. The economy sucks, the world is changing, and the job market has more holes in it than a piece Swiss cheese shot with a shotgun. Generation gaps make things tougher for old geeks to pass on career wisdom to new geeks.
As a certified “old geek,” this worries me. So let me make a humble call; older geeks stay aware of this, and younger geeks please tolerate the ignorance of your elders. These understandings are going to be necessary for us to pass on career wisdom to the younger generation, and for the younger generation to absorb it.
We old geeks? Yes, we've got plenty of wisdom, understanding, experience, and may actually have real, functional jobs. That's great, that's wonderful, but it doesn't mean we can communicate it to other people who grew up with different kinds of different technologies and experiences. We have to make the actual, conscious effort to explain to our younger geeky brethren and sistren in the lessons that we've learned.
This requires remaining open-minded, remaining hip, staying aware of trends, and so forth. The one vital thing we old geeks can do? Actually listened and treat younger geeks his fellow human beings. Go on, listen to the “kids," understand how they feel, understand their problems, pay attention to their feelings. Once you get their job and life situations, you can pass on their knowledge.
(Besides they know were all the cool stuff is these days, and that may be vitally important to us not turning into grizzled old geeks who are out of touch.)
You younger geeks, want to learn from your elders and understand the magic of careers, of business, of making an actual paycheck the will let you not live in your parents basement? Seek us out, ask questions, push us to share with you. Tolerate our strange ways, occasional rants, and when we reminisce about “the good old days.” Help your “older geeks” connect with the younger crowd, make the effort to build bridges, and of course, pay attention.
(Besides, we older geeks have done all that networking and other things that people tell you to do, so we might just be able to hook you up with all sorts of interesting employment opportunities, if you remind us about it, or bring us coffee to wake us up in the middle of a con.)
The generation gap is real, I see it every time people talk as if anime began with Naruto, or when people can't remember which order the Star Wars movies appeared (and that hurts badly). It's even more important overcome this, because of all the career wisdom we geeks can pass on, or absorbed from her elder geeks. So let's make the effort.
Besides we can all agree on one thing; there should have been only one Highlander film. That's a good foundation to work with.
– Steven Savage