The parking lot at the library was much like the Christmas season mayhem at the mall.
The desperate search for power after Sandy kicked us in the teeth.
The lot was a battle for real estate, the library itself teeming with people.
This of course, was enough to bring out my inner curmudgeon.
What were all these kids doing here? Hey you kids, get off my lawn!
As I found a space, plugged in my gadgets and started to work, I took a moment to look around. Most of my fellow library nomads were between fifteen and twenty-five years of age.
As I relished the silence of the room I observed something that was worth noting.
These “kids” were here to work. Sure, some were playing games on their laptops or futzing around on Facebook, but most were working. There was no school that week, no assignments due tomorrow.
I suddenly had a Grinch That Stole Christmas moment. The kids were the Who’s in Whoville holding hands around the tree singing. The melody was the clicking of keyboards. They are the do it yourself (DIY) generation.
Many years ago when I bought my first iPod, I was incredulous when I had to download the newest software when I plugged in the device. Why did I have to update their product when I just purchased it a half an hour ago? Now I see that was the beginning of the DIY generation.
Younger people have been raised to do these things by themselves. Need a restaurant? Find the hottest one online. Where was Teddy Roosevelt born? Don’t ask me, look it up. I know that all of this data was available when I was their age. It was in the library that I was sitting in that day.
This isn’t about data or its availability. It’s about an attitude. This generation is expected to find things out for themselves. A lot of it has been thrust upon them, but this is where they are. They find a way.
Much has been written about the perils of the online world. No one talks anymore. These kids have their heads buried in their devices. I have teenagers myself, and I’ve driven as the girls texted each other while sitting side by side rather than talking.
That this generation is different there is no doubt. However, different isn’t always bad. They know how to work. Most know by now that there isn’t the lifelong corporate job waiting for them. No watch at the retirement party after thirty years of service. They know those days are over. If they want to find a path, they will have to chop some brush to clear it. There is an entrepreneurial spirit about them. A spirit I admire.
Where will all of this lead? This generation will be running things soon. Many of them are now. What kind of country will we have?
As I look at the current state of our country, with what we did with it. I believe that things will be different in their hands, they will be better.
My heart didn’t grow three times that day sitting in the silence of the library, but I did feel something I haven’t felt in a long cold powerless week. I felt optimism.
John Nuckel is a financial advisor and writer. His novel “The Vig” is available now.