Do you ever notice that young people often talk in technology terms?
They seem to have their own language much different than the Boomer’s language of the 60s and 70s. We used to say a great experience was “bomb” or the movie Yellow Submarine was psychedelic. Perhaps our parents were bewildered by our choice of words too.
But today’s vocabulary has a business/technology bent to it.
As a Baby Boomer I am part of a generation that prides itself on being cool and up-to-date. Remember, we were the group that wasn’t going to trust anyone over 30? So when my 30-year-old son tells me I’m “just a data point of one”, I’m confused– I don’t like it.
Trying to talk to Millennials
“Half the time I don’t know what these kids are talking about,” my 50-something girlfriend says of her 32-year-old co-worker. “Jennifer tells me she’s in beta. What does that mean?”
It means, she’s changing, I explain, “It’s a start-up business term. She’s evolving.”
Actually, a lot of Boomers are in beta. Unless you’re one of those self-proclaimed curmudgeons who proclaim, “I’m saying no to technology, I’m not into that stuff,” then you are in beta.
Being in Beta
Those of us who want to remain relevant and visible to younger generations—are in beta.
If we’re learning new things or changing our perspective we’re in beta. Becoming an in-law for the first time, or a grandparent puts us in beta. In fact, being in beta is the premise of a book by Reid Hoffman, the co-founder and chairman of LinkedIn and Ben Casnocha called “The Start-up of You.”
The book promises to help readers “adapt to the future, invest in themselves and transform their careers” but it really could be billed a guide for daily living—especially for Baby Boomers.
It’s a guidebook for personal and professional growth, for using your mind, for stretching outside of your comfort zones.
It describes some commonly used business terms that define life stages applicable to Boomers — new careers, retirement, grand parenting, single life and/or caregiving. Basically if you’re doing something new, you’re in beta.
Being in beta is a good thing. It means you’re alive—not stagnant. So if you want to maintain the Boomer generation’s badge of hipness, here’s list of five new vocabulary words to incorporate in your conversations with your adult children.
5 Tech that have become Common Expressions
- Pivot—it’s what you do when plan A doesn’t work out the way you thought. You pivot to plan B. We’ve all lived long enough to have pivoted many times. We got married, got divorced, we lost our jobs, and “we picked ourselves up and dusted ourselves off, “We called it changing. It’s pivoting now.
- Data point—Wikipedia defines data point as a statistical set of measurements on a single member of a statistical population. In other words, as a Boomer mom who believes her son should call her more often—I’m a data point of one. I’m guessing I’m a data point of many, but since I haven’t seen actual survey results on this request, I will concede the fact to my son, “I’m a data point of one.”
- Brain-dump—it’s sharing information—usually new information and sometimes complex. For example, your grandson Alex comes over to fix your computer. He shows you how to run the fixit program and check for other simple issues. Your husband comes in the room and you say, “let’s get together at 7 p.m. for a brain dump where I can share all the info I learned from Alex today.” Watch Alex and your husband be stunned.
- Bandwidth-in technical terms it refers to the range of frequencies (not the speed), or the measured amount of information that can be transmitted over a connection: the higher the frequency, the higher the bandwidth. In common language terms, it means the amount of information one is capable of processing at any given time.
For instance, you daughter asks you to pick up her clothes from the dry cleaners, stop at the drugstore, and pick her son up from school so she can workout. You agree to picking up her son but tell her, “I just don’t have the bandwidth to do all of your errands today.”
- PING—traditionally this term refers to an Internet program used to determine whether a specific Internet address is on-line. Now it’s been morphed (changed) into the lower case spelling of ping and means “get back to me by email or text.” Use this expression when one of your kid’s says to you, “have a good flight home. Safe landing.” You respond with, “ok, I’ll ping you when I get there.” And then send the obligatory text “landed”.
It’s easy to incorporate these types of terms into your daily vocabulary. When you do so, you not only impress your kids and other young people, you are experiencing your own personal growth with language. Let’s face it, referring to your recent experience at a jazz concert as “far out” just doesn’t cut it anymore. It was epic.