It doesn’t really pay to classify multitudes by their age–every generation is complex and intermingles with all the others.
But it might be a useful way to understand the issues we’ve faced and where we might be heading.
Generation C was inaugurated with the events created by Covid-19, and it is defined by a new form of connection.
There’s a juxtaposition of the physical connection that was lost as we shelter in place, and the digital connection that so many are finding online.
Not just a before and after for the economy, but for culture, for health, for expectations. School and jobs are different now, probably for the long term.
No idea or behavior shift has ever spread more quickly or completely in the history of the planet. In seven weeks, the life of every single person on Earth changed, and the unfolding tragedy and the long slog forward will drive expectations for years. Expectations about being part of a physical community, about the role of government and about what we hope for our future.
If previous cycles of media were about top-down broadcast (from radio, TV and cable), the last few years have been about the long tail, about giving a microphone to anyone who wanted one. But now, the peer to peer power of the internet is dominating. The Kardashians won’t be as important as 3,000 people with a thousand connections each. Never mind a million people with 100 each.
Companies are now competing to see how few employees they have instead of how many. The lattices of the connection economy are racing to replace the edifice complex of the previous one.
And if Covid-19 and Connection are the first two C’s, the third one is going to be Carbon.
Because we’re going to need to pay. All of us. To pay for the dislocations and to pay for the treatment and to pay for the recovery.
Worldwide cataclysms are different from local ones. As we shift gears and seek to revitalize our economy, put people to work and build a resilient future, it might be tempting to drill and burn, and to try to adopt an emergency footing that disregards any long-term future more than a few months ahead. But GenC may be too wise for that. And they may be connected enough to speak up and overrule the baby boomers.
A threat and an enemy will focus public attention. For a long time, that enemy was other people or other nations, and an us-vs-them mindset was a great way to get attention or get elected. But just as we came to understand that you can’t bully a virus, you can’t personalize carbon either.
The worldwide challenge of carbon is not a problem for someone else, it’s a problem for all of us. Using carbon consumption as a way to pay for rebuilding our community brings all three Cs together.
Emergencies are overrated as a response mechanism. Preparation and prevention are about to become a more popular alternative.
My generation was the dominant voice for sixty years. A voice that worried about the next 24 hours, not the next 24 years. That’s about to shift, regardless of what year you were born.
What can we do that matters instead?