What Have the Prior Generations Taught You Today?

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Last updated on February 4th, 2024 at 04:56 pm

I was having a conversation with an older gentleman during my Tuesday morning subway adventure about the signs of progress. (During the various delays we were encountering on our trip, he eventually struck up a conversation and I took my earbuds out to chat.) It’s definitely interesting having conversations with people who’re separated from you by a couple of generations—it’ll often open your eyes to perspectives that you might not have thought of by yourself. The subway was moving especially slow, and we were joking about what time it would be when we eventually got to the station, how bad the service has been, etc. I’d been working on The Road Ahead on my BlackBerry, and the conversation soon turned to this generation’s over-reliance on technology.

Some things he pointed out to me, that I may have known but hadn’t really thought about as of late include:


While we were stuck on the TTC, the operator made a comment about how someone was supposed to have fixed the signals a week ago, but someone hadn’t done their job right. As if somewhere within the organization, some disembodied figure was at fault for every commuter’s suffering. A few things wrong with this:

  • When I was in customer service, I was always taught to apologize on behalf of the organization and not shift the blame. This was definitely not that. Shifting the blame is essentially the same as trying to avoid responsibility.
  • Trying to act like you totally sympathize with the commuters won’t work, since only one of us is paid to be there and isn’t arriving at their destination late because of the situation, and guess what? He’s the one on the loudspeaker.
  • If you can’t actually solve the problem, don’t make the situation worse. You were damn near patronizing us.

I’m just saying—we operate in a world where accountability seems to be all but dead. People want to shift the blame on things and never just buckle down and solve problems. So things tend to spiral further out of control until someone steps in and figures out a solution.


You know it’s true. I see people on the subways all the time from all sorts of socioeconomic backgrounds. At any given time, someone’s rocking:

  • An MP3 player;
  • A cellphone;
  • A laptop;
  • A tablet; or
  • An e-reader, etc.

Related to what I covered in yesterday’s post, this is the new mobile equivalent of socializing in the digital world instead of the physical. It’s as if we took the impersonal nature of the digital world and seamlessly figured out a way to integrate it into the physical world. Well done, guys. Granted, I’m the last person who should be even talking about this. With my lovely iPod Touch, I have 100+ apps, but only use about 5 with any regularity; I’m usually bopping around to music on public transit while reading an e-book; I prefer to tune out the sounds of the world and just jam to my tunes. (Which, to be honest, are getting a little old—either I have to find new stuff or take a new approach to my commute!) In Toronto especially, I think about 99% of the people I see on the street are walking around with frowns permanently etched into their faces. This abundance of devices isn’t really making anyone happier.

In fact, funny story. Today I got hit on while riding the subway with a friend. It went down a little like this (quoted directly from a chat I was having):

and on the subway
this blonde chick, pretty attractive
“accidentally” (couldn’t tell for sure) dropped her bag on my foot while sitting down
and by reflex i said
“oh, sorry”
and she giggled and said
“why’re YOU apologizing?” with the total flirty smile
and i was like
i wasn’t even TRYING

And why did this happen? Because I didn’t have my headphones on and I was able to interact with the world around me. Sorry chica, but I’m not on the market. But for all you single readers out there, this is a good way to meet people—random encounters when you disconnect from the hardware. Just keep that one in mind. Free tip!


Not exactly related to our situation on the subway, but we ended up talking about the idea of entitlement. A lot of people out there—especially in the workforce—think that the world owes them something. Yeah, well let me set you straight. The world doesn’t owe you a damn thing. I’ve said it time and time again: you’re going to have to work to get to where you want to be. None of the people you idolize got there through just wanting to be there—even heiresses and lottery winners have their own sorts of work to do once they’re in the limelight to try and maintain a “normal” lifestyle. To not lose themselves. (And they rarely succeed.)

This entire idea of entitlement causes us to act simply for our self-concern rather than acting in collectives. This is setting us down a very precarious path, where if something happens to any of us: i.e. we lose a job; we get divorced; we lose a loved one; etc.—we might not have anyone else out there who has it in their interests to sympathize with us and help us out. So here it is—you’re not entitled to anything. Work hard for everything you want, and you will be rewarded proportionally to the amount of effort you put in. I can’t guarantee, however, that it will necessarily be the reward you were looking for…

The elderly are always full of wisdom and things we can learn and take into our daily lives. So today’s question for you, dear readers, is:

What conversation have you had with an older person lately and what have you learned from it?

And thus concludes the mini-series on the digital world vs. the physical world, and our need to not forget that the people who we interact with online are not an adequate replacement to the flesh and blood mortals who cross our paths daily when away from the computer 😊

Going into the weekend will see some more promo work for the contest; absorbing as much knowledge as I can in the days I have off from the j-o; and working on just propelling life forward, as I always try to do 😊

Jam done. Time for me to wrap it up for now. Have a great one, and enjoy the weekend ahead!


The second logo for Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad



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