Society as a whole is seeing a gradual change with the advent of technology along with the phasing out of baby boomers and their being replaced by immigrants. Communication across borders has been facilitated by emails and insta messaging. Travelling to far off lands to explore new opportunities has become easier. The age of the baby boomers is past. This paper discusses the effect of baby boomers, automation and immigration on society.
A baby boomer is a person born during the post world war II period. That is between 1946 and 1964. The term is also used in the context of culture. It refers to a generation who rejected or redefined traditional beliefs and value system. Their upbringing was in an environment of government subsidies and with the hope that the world would change with time. The baby boomer generation is associated with rebellion. It is characterized by a social change which includes issues like acceptance of homosexuality, abortion and reducing the inequalities of race, gender or class. This generation was rife with protestations, demonstrations, woman’s liberty and riots. Baby boomers were the first generation that grew up watching television. Developing countries like India saw an outburst of philosophical thinking while the developed west was rife with music and coke. (Gillon, 2004).
This generation is now nearing retirement and stepping into old age. This presents opportunities for the new generation to rise. It also poses some challenges to society. While life expectancy has risen with the advancement in medical sciences, the quality of life has deteriorated. The aged live a life of ailments and isolation. They demand more attention and care. Those in good health are not willing to accept retirement thus blocking opportunities for the next generation. Being a generation which demands its rights, they demand medical aid to lead a better quality of life. In their zest to live life to the fullest however, they have ignored the fact that ageing will have an impact on their health – particularly mental health. A research project “Age Well” launched in the UK reports its finding in its report “Getting on with life”. The key findings of the report are:
- People have longer but not necessarily better lives
- People are likely to lead lives of isolation in their old age.
- About half of them are concerned about their mental health.
- People due to fragmentation of the family and loss of community cohesion.
- Inequalities will continue to exist impaction mental health.
- People are likely to continue working beyond the age of retirement.
- They are less concerned about mental states like depression in old age.
- They are worried about the support they will get during their old age.
- They are willing to find solutions to their problems.
- This is a generation of diversity in all walks of life.
Automation has invaded our lives during the last decade. Sensational advancement in the field of information technology has changed the life style of the new generation. Everything from making mathematical calculations to diagnosing diseases depends on automation. This has resulted in the emergence of a new breed of techno savvy individuals who have evolved a new social culture. This culture predominantly uses technology for communication. While this has enhanced business and improved the work atmosphere, it has deteriorated inter personal communication. As technology advances, the demands at the workplace increase. This increasing demand of the workplace makes individuals less willing to spend time at home with their family and friends. The decreasing size of the family is another impact of automation. Smaller families are easier to manage and emotionally less complicated. With both parents working, children are often relegated to the care of baby sitters or nannies. They spend a large part of their day at school and a good portion of it watching television or using other digital media. Physical activities are confined to clubs and gyms. We are raising a generation which prefers to stay indoors sitting in front of a computer or television. The introduction of iphones and tablets has further impacted the social life which has become confined to face book and whats app. On the one hand, newer models of cars are being introduced in the market while on the other hand people are becoming more confined to their work place or home. Ecommerce has made it convenient to shop for anything from home thus removing the need to “go shopping”. In fact, it may not be wrong to say that automation has brought the world physically closer while making people emotionally distant from one another.(Tibor, 2009).
With new, better and faster means of transport being available, travelling long distances has become easier, convenient and cheaper. This has opened up a plethora of work opportunities for people around the world. One can now pursue the career of one’s choice irrespective of where he lives. However, migration of people across countries has deepened the rift among the cultures. Immigrants often find themselves as outcasts in a society to which they are new. Language barriers, caste and culture differences and differences in economic backgrounds all differentiate the immigrants from the locals. The immigrants therefore live isolated lives removed from the centre of activity in their adopted country. They yearn for the comfort offered by their native culture and live a life without the love, care and support of their families. (Singer, 2013).
In conclusion, the fading out of baby boomers, the advent of automation and immigration across international borders have all resulted in a culture of isolation. People have become more removed and out of sync of their near and dear ones. They prefer to live within the confines of their homes or work places and have minimum contact with humans. Today’s generation is one which believes in privacy. But is this really privacy or a lack of understanding of the circumstances in which they live? And what will be the future of our society? What will the next generation bring? Will they continue to remain aloof or will they crave personal interaction? With social barriers being crossed, are we heeding back to the age of the cave man? Will we come full circle and begin the cycle of evolution afresh? These are the questions posed by the effects that baby boomers, automation and immigration have on our society.
"The Older Population: 2010". U.S. Census Bureau. November 2011. Retrieved June 25, 2010.
Gillon, Steve (2004) Boomer Nation: The Largest and Richest Generation Ever, and How It Changed America, Free Press, "Introduction", ISBN 0-7432-2947-9
UNESCO “INTERNATIONAL SOCIAL SCIENCE BULLETIN” A Q U A R T E R L Y BULLETIN PUBLISHED B Y UNESCO VOL. X , NO. I, 1958.
The New Face of America: How Growing Minority Populations Affect U.S. Politics and Public Policy Audrey Singer, Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program, Brookings Institution Washington, DC April 29, 2013 (weblink : http://fpc.state.gov/208059.htm)
Handbook of Automation 2009, pp 71-92 Social, Organizational, and Individual Impacts of Automation Tibor Vá mos