Dan Hull: Post Traumatic Slacker Envy

He was never quite the same after the tragic kiln explosion, or the death of disco, but that never stopped J. Daniel Hull from doing what was right.  A beacon in a sea of mediocrity, the guiding light of What About Clients?, Hull had learned the lesson of the 70’s and would never again succumb to transitory whims.  Until now.

Boomers: They just don’t [heart] tech enough. For a lawyer, and especially one born between 1946 and 1966, I’m not too bad at science, or even math. Geometry came easily. Calculus not so easily.

It always starts this way, A personal disclosure, a glimpse into the bleeding heart, as if Dairy Queen’s issues with Mr. Softee taint us all. 

Same with the new Digital World. And Word Processing, Document Management, Graphics. Frankly, I don’t like any of “it”–and prefer others (always younger) do “it” for me. Documents especially. I do not like to type them, create them, edit them, manage them, store them and retrieve them. Secretly, I do not even like computers, cell phones, video-conferencing, anything electrical–and never will. I like humans, voices, winks, laughs, sneers, grimaces, smiles, flirtations, handshakes, and bodies in the room.

So what if Hull never touched the IBM Selectric III?  So what if wet paper copiers got your hands all dirty?  They were just tools, and a good mechanic never blames his tools.

But hating computers is hurting me–and wasting the time of others who I demand do it for me. I am working more and more on my tech. (If you think by the way that operating a blog is “technical”, think again; the blogging platforms available make that all very easy.)

Gen-Y and Gen-X are very right about one thing: many Baby Boomers really are babies, and often arrogantly helpless cretins, about Tech. We are above it, we think. Well, we are not above it. We cannot be.

What?  Hull finally got an ipod and he’s “loving it?”

The tools of the digital world–creation, management, storage, retrieval and shipment of documents–may not make the work product better. But it does make work easier. The over-45 crowd must stop relying on younger people to do that work. And we must quit whining about Tech, and having to learn it. We cannot afford to be above it any longer.

Granted, the charm of saying “I wouldn’t touch that computer if my life depended on it,” is gone.  The days of claiming only sissies use remote controls to change the vertical hold on their TVs is over.  But has Hull gone over to the Slackoisie, the very term he coined to denigrate those who think the ability to photoshop entitles them to show up for work at their convenience?

I still prefer Boomers for co-workers, having given up on younger generations for the time being. Boomers will work long and passionately into their sixties, seventies and even eighties. They are never offended by hard work or complex problems. They don’t think that digital toys make your work better–and they are right about that. Boomers like complexity, ambiguity, and genuinely hard problems. Gadgets? They just make you coffee, or give you a copy.

I’d rather work with a 50-year-old than anyone because he or she, generally, will go on until the last dog dies. Never prissy. Always engaged. Nothing is too hard. Boomers are “Foxhole People” to the core.
Boomer tech.bmpNo computer will ever win a case.  No gadget will replace the mind that drives the fingers that push the buttons. My old friend Hull has come to his senses. 

To make this point as painfully clear as possible, consider the example of this hard-copy New York Times reading Boomer (on the left, with only three fingers on his right hand) speaking to a prematurely wrinkled, yet distinguished man with bed head.  The nuanced look of disdain at the older man’s ill-fitting sweater would never be recognized in an email or twit.

But more importantly, look at the eager glances of the youngsters in the background, trying to figure out what these two men are doing, standing face to face while their mouths emit sounds.

That’s called talking man to man.  Dan Hull still does it. Do you?

15 comments on “Dan Hull: Post Traumatic Slacker Envy

  1. Venkat

    I don’t have an opinion on the Boomer/Gen Y debate, since I don’t really pay attention to those types of labels. Although, I’ll admit that I’m starting to become more aware of the flaws of the younger generation as I get older. (That should be a tip-off as to how I feel about complaints about the younger generation. Every generation has them. Ours (yours) are not unique, despite the influence of any recent advancements in technology.)

    On the tech issue, learning your own tech is obvious. It’s about self reliance. If I want to crank out a filing at 12pm on a Friday night why wouldn’t I figure out how to do it so I could just do it myself, rather than depend on secretaries, slacker associates or anyone else? I’m not saying you have to do it every time, but I’d feel a loss of control not knowing how to do it.

  2. SHG

    If nothing else, I figured the picture was a dead giveaway.  Did you happen to notice who the two old guys are?

  3. SHG

    Former now, but if you magnify by 10,000x that NY Times in Hull’s hand and check the date carefully, and squint a little, well…

  4. Hull

    RH–Scott and I both have biker parents; that’s how we met. You are likely from a small town or other insular place. My advice: Talk to different people. Go other places. Read different stuff. Avoid lawyers, cops and CPAs. Fly fish. from a small town Learn to fence. Wear a cape. Get in shape. Have dinner with Parker Posey. Live on Ile St. Louis for 2 weeks. Visit southern Missouri. Southern Manhattan. Learn to Antler Dance.

    Sound good?

  5. Rick Horowitz

    What ever lead you to think I was “from a small town or other insular place”?

    Even after re-reading my note several times I don’t see where I give any indication of my origins or all the places on this or the other continents I’ve lived!

    Wait? Is it because you believe you are so important that the only way I could not know who you are is by fitting your erroneous description of me?

    Good to know you are so humble, in addition to being unknown in the parts of the world in which I’ve been living.

  6. SHG

    Psst, Rick. He’s joking. He does that a lot.  My parents really weren’t bikers.  My mother needed training wheels.

  7. clases de slackline

    They just don’t [heart] tech enough. For a lawyer, and especially one born between 1946 and 1966, I’m not too bad at science, or even math. Geometry came easily. Calculus not so easily.

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