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tomhudson's Journal: Why Abbie Hoffman was right .. 11

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The quote:

"Don't trust anyone over 30"

This doesn't apply to everyone, but it applies to a large enough slice of the general population.

Some obsrvations:

  1. Most people over 30 have lost the capacity to learn anything new.

    They keep on doing what worked in the past, even though it doesn't work any more. If it's not working, its because they're "not doing it right", not because it no longer works ...

  2. Most people over 30 have lost the ability to ready anything more complicated than the daily newspaper or a romance novel.

    Asking them to RTFM is pointless. They need a seminar to spoon-feed them. Power-point slides. Group play-sessions. 3 days for what can be gleaned in 20 minutes from a book.

  3. Most people over 30 have lost the ability to change routines

    Even if its spoon-fed to them via a seminar, or tapes, or mentors or coaches, without constant reinforcement, they end up going back to their former routines.

  4. Most people over 30 will spend more time rationalizing why they can't do something than it would take to just do it

    "I'm too busy right now." "I have to prepare for it." "It won't work." "It's too hard." "I'm thinking about it." "I need this, this and this first." "Something came up." "Something might come up."

  5. Most people over 30 act like the first step is the whole journey

    Gotta lose some weight? Somehow the act of buying a treadmill is sufficient for the fat to magically disappear. Gotta pick up some sales? Somehow, thinking about going to see customers is sufficient. Gotta stop smoking? Pay someone else for hypnotherapy, acupuncture, seminars - and when it doesn't work, its not your fault.

A few recent conversations again brought this whole mess to the fore. Informal useabilty testing - all the complaints were from the over-30 crowd. For example - "It would help if there were some on-screen instructions" (there WERE on-screen instructions, but nobody over 30 bothered to read them ...).

As to why someone didn't do something they were supposed to - if the person is over 30, I don't even bother to listen any more - I now assume it won't get done. Surprise me!

I could go on, but you get the point ... most of the over-30 crowd have lost their spark, their get-up-and-go has got-up-and-left, they've become prematurely fossilized. This isn't to say they're BAD people ... but its left me wondering how much of this premature mental ossification is cultural, how much is environmental, and how much is genetic.

It justs sucks that the best interactions in 3D are with people half my age, because they're still on the ball, plugged into what's going on in the general world ...

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Why Abbie Hoffman was right ..

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  • Eh? You young pups and your new fangled "software" with its fancy "instructions". Get off my lawn, you damn kids!

    Oh, wait. I guess that's not me. You did say "most" of the over-30 crowd, not "all."

    I've always known that if I don't absolutely stay on top of all the new shit in this field that I'll become obsolete. That's been true since I started programming in the 1970s (anyone else remember the "functional programming" vs. "procedural programming" debates?) It's been good for me, too -- I believe

    • I'd have to say the biggest change being over 30 is that my tolerance for some things (especially stupidity) has dropped considerably. I have no problem with the ignorance that comes from inexperience, but watching people repeating the same mistakes is just maddening.

      Its awesome watching someone who is inexperienced learn something ... its maddening to watch someone who should know better REFUSE to learn. Adults with no more attention span than an infant.

      That certainly doesn't describe "most" 20-year-

  • An increased ability to generalize has nothing to do with being over 30 now does it? Or to attempt to weasel a generalization by adding palliatives like "most"? I believe you may be trying to apply an arbitrary age limit to Sturgeon's Law as applied to people. From my experience, age has little to do with whether or not someone is stuck in their ways, or just generally ignorant. There are bright and not-so-bright at all ages, and "learned helplessness" is more difficult to overcome than one might think,
    • "Learned helplessness" ... great label! Which is why I'm ranting here, rather than directly to the people involved. Trying to break their cycle/rut/whatever requires a lot of patience, and giving them the time to realize that the only one holding them back is themselves, and that they have to accept personal responsabiliy for their inaction. Tearing them a new one won't work.

      What I think happens is each person starts out learning a certain set of rules, knowledge base, etc., and that, at some point, most

      • People learn and/or think for the same reasons they do anything else: discomfort of some sort with status quo. The ones we look up to, usually styled "self-motivated" or even "self-actualized", accept their roles as co-creators of what is, and are motivated by the positives of what might be even better. The ones you're ranting about? Those will only do the bare minimum to get back to whatever level of mediocrity they've trained themselves to accept, and not. one. iota. more. These sheeple have equated th
  • by turg (19864) *
    ...but I think it more of an oscillation than a one-way street. People tend to be more open and adventurous in the teens and twenties and more conservative (not in the political sense but in what they put effort into) in the thirties and forties, but I think the pendulum swings usually back the other way (or at least towards the middle) by the time they're in their sixties (contrary to popular belief). I think by that time they've probably experienced the downside of both ends of this spectrum (maybe that's
  • Well, you don't give much info whether you do a lot of these presentations ..

    If your audience is composed of many "first adopters" or "managerial" types, then these might simply complain about the lack of instructions because they feel it will improve the product more than if they take the pains themselves.

  • Should probably be the over-40 crowd nowadays. I know a lot of really sharp people in the 30-40 year old range who don't have any of these problems.
    • Give them 10 years :-)

      Actually, I've noticed that its mostly the over-40s as well, just that the original quote was "over 30."

      If its not something they've already done, it becomes a huge problem, and takes 4 times the time it should. Simple things, like running a wire through a wall, or splicing a 12-volt power line, still don't get done properly even after detailed directions ("detailed directions for adding 20' to a 12V power supply - wtf?).

  • It's got nothing to do with age. Large chunks of the human population exhibit all those listed symtoms from birth. I think where the over-30 things comes slightly into play is that when you're younger you've got a little more energy and you're a little less jaded.

    But in reality, the world breaks down into 2 groups for me: Those who want to learn, and those that don't. And both those groups come in lots of shapes, sizes and ages.

    • the world breaks down into 2 groups for me: Those who want to learn, and those that don't

      That definitely plays a part in it from where I sit. People who get out of the habit of learning/exploring seem to, as time goes on, become less able to pick up on knowledge transferred through "conventional" techniques, such as reading.

      When a new situation faces them, they're unable to do more than grasp it superficially. They don't seem to be able to "get into it" enough to make decisions, except where they've

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