The Rise (and Fall) of the Luddites

If You’re Going to Wallow in Ignorance,
Do us a Favor and Just Hang It up Now!

In the last two days, I’ve heard three friends and professional colleagues proudly declare that they are Luddites. (If you don’t know what that is read this item on Wikipedia.)

This was three separate conversations, with well-educated, successful professionals who I don’t believe even know each other, so I don’t think they have perpetrated some odd prank on me. They were waving the white flag on their future, and I refuse to accept that.

My personal conversations with my friends pale in comparison to a report on that Philadelphia City Councilman Jim Kenney is spending nearly $29,000 of city money paying the company ChatterBlast to do his social media for him. It’s pathetic that he is doing this. But then even more pathetic that is his excuse, cited on “I, at 53 years old, do not have that facility,” he said. “So I need consultant advice to communicate with a group of folks who are not necessarily in my age group.”

I highly recommend reading the article, which in my opinion reveals a weirdly woven web of incompetence in leadership, communication and service to constituents and clients.

I will say that in contrast, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter does his own tweeting, which is really awesome, because I have tweeted with him about his presence at a meeting, and then joined with him in defending the city wage tax collected from suburbanites who work in the city.

Now back to my friends! They are perhaps not as bad as Councilman Kenney, but they¬†have made a choice to not commit to improving their social media competency, and are not participating in the digital revolution in a manner that will keep them current and competitive . In my opinion, if they don’t get off their assess and get with it they will soon not be employable for what should be the balance of their productive professional lives. So, what the hell are they thinking!?

My friends, let’s say are a 55-year-old man, a 55-year-old woman, and a 45-year-0ld man. According to Social Security Actuarial Tables, the 55-year-old man has a life expectancy of another 24+ years, the 55-year-old woman has a life expectancy of another 28+ years, and the 45-year-old man has a life expectancy of another 33+ years. I don’t know their personal financial situations, but I do have a sense that they all expect to work another 10 years or more.

Look back to technology that didn’t exist 10 or 25 years ago, or even five years ago. Think how far behind a professional would be today if they decided back then that they were not going to embrace new technology. It’s hard to imagine them surviving in business and in life in a satisfactory manner. The pace of innovation is only going to increase. Someone declaring that they are behind now and not willing to move forward are dooming themselves. And I refuse to accept this in my friends.

This is a deep and serious issue that requires more thought and action. The question is “How do we help these people who aren’t helping themselves?” I’ll write on that soon.

–Chuck Hall


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