(Anti-Boomer Propaganda, Update)

by Ellen Brandt, Ph.D.

If you don’t think there’s a highly-organized propaganda campaign being waged against Baby Boomers, perhaps they’ve already messed with your mind and spirit. The fact that it’s bad politics doesn’t seem to deter our detractors. Maybe ridicule will help.

Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge how pervasive, malicious – and essentially silly – the determined propaganda effort against the Baby Boom generation has become needs to look at the popular and by now infamous Mashable story on Boomers and Technology that came out a few weeks ago. (I’m not going to link it, because they don’t deserve it. But the title is “Users Over 55 Quitting Facebook: The Baby Boom Times Over?”)

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: Boomers turn 46-63 in 2009. So if you’re talking about Boomers 55-63 only, you’re leaving out exactly half of our generation. Moreover, grouping the half you’re leaving in – Boomers 55-63 – with the fairly vast population over age 63, including Boomers’ parents and, in the case of some younger Boomers, grandparents, is, to say the very least, extremely poor logic. A 55-year-old Boomer, in fact, is as close in age to a Millennial of 25 as (s)he is to a Greatest Generation American of 85.

Even worse, propaganda-wise, than the implication that every American over 55 is part of the Baby Boom, is the downright frightening photo Mashable, in all its wisdom – NOT! – has used to illustrate this purported article about Boomers. It’s a stock photo of a fellow in a plaid shirt, with a baffled expression, looking at a laptop computer.

I’m sure the model who posed for this shot is a very nice elderly gentleman. But he’s as much a Baby Boomer as the Jonas Brothers are! I won’t just guess the man is over 80. I’d say he’s over 90, unless that’s too young. In fact, he looks a lot like the average Centenarian I’ve interviewed for stories on extreme old age.

“Oh, Ellen,” you may say. “It’s truly funny, but why should we care?” We should care, Dearest Reader, because there seems to be a fairly significant slice of the younger population, some of them even part of the media, the business world, or – Goddess help us! – government, who have now been brainwashed into identifying Boomers as frail, decrepit, and over-the-hill, when we are, of course, mostly vigorous, fit, in the prime of our lives and at what are normally considered the peak ages for productivity, creativity, and earnings.

While it’s clear this photo upsets me more than the story’s theme, I’m not too happy with the premise of this oft-quoted Mashable article, either. In the guise of talking about a supposed drop-off in the use of Facebook – and presumably other social networking sites – by mature customers, the 20-something author boldly states that the reason older users log into such sites is different from why people his age log in. His generation, says the self-appointed guru, use social networking “as a means of daily communication,” seemingly about important things that need their and the world’s immediate attention. Meanwhile, we poor older folks see social sites “as a replacement for email to keep in touch with family and old friends.”

Actually, if you think about it, there is precisely zero difference between “a means of daily communication” and “a replacement for email,” anyway, since most people who use E-mail, whatever their age, tend to check it not only daily, but every few hours, if not every few minutes.

The more subtle reading of the Millennial writer’s argument, though, is that the very young have seamlessly integrated computer technology into their worklives and social lives, while other generations, particularly those Luddite Boomers, have not. If you’re reading this story, you know that’s ludicrous.

The whole concept of a “digital divide,” as anyone up on recent history knows, was coined to promote computer usage in Third World countries, if such exist anymore, positing the theory that the inexorable spread of computers would also spread literacy and general knowledge and help lift the poorest of the world up to the standard of the Western democracies. Which is undoubtedly true.

But in the last – oh, I dunno, six months? – we suddenly see the term “digital divide” used to promote a far different theory, if one can dignify it as such: That today’s teens and new college grads use computer technology more, better, and smarter than Those Who Aren’t Them, therefore making them better prepared to do this, that, and the other great enterprise than all those Old Fogies and Fogiesses, especially the Evil Boomers.

To me, this is such a lame and ludicrous theory, it makes me want to scream. I’m not particularly techie myself. But I still have my TRS-80 Model One, which I use as a paperweight. Not only has every single Boomer of my acquaintance used computers as long, essentially, as there have been computers on the mass consumer market, which is – what? – 35 years? but so have we Boomers’ elderly parents, if those elderly parents were professionals in a very wide range of jobs, from physicians, engineers, attorneys, and accountants to teachers, salespeople, retail managers, and small business owners.

As for the social networking sites, it’s clear there is no essential difference in the way any age group uses them from the way any other age group uses them. In fact, if we’re talking about using social networking effectively as a business tool, the Mashable guru should note that Linked In, the large site considered most helpful in a purely business sense, now skews very significantly towards members over 40, with Baby Boomers possibly the single largest generation of Linked In users.

Twitter Thugs and Other Charming Crazies

The Mashable article well illustrates one kind of lately prevalent Anti-Boomer propaganda: Boomers are behind the times technologically, no longer capable of being in charge of our complex world. A couple of illustrations from social networking sites themselves highlight other themes.

On Twitter, pure know-nothing thuggery has been quite popular. Perhaps the most-Tweeted – reiterated, for non-Twitter members – posts is the elegantly-worded “Yikes!!! Baby Boomer nearly craps his pants as his secure financial nest egg is cracked!!!” Actually, there are variations of this post. Sometimes, the Yikes is replaced by a Wow or even a Zowie. And the number of exclamation points varies from three to ten.

I don’t go to Twitter very often, but I’ve seen this post at least a zillion and a half times. I have never clicked on the accompanying link, nor do I want to. And lately, there are two other reiterated-to-death thug posts: “Are Baby Boomers Ultimately Doomed?” – which I guess could come from a strange religious cult, although somehow I doubt it – and “Laid-Off Baby Boomers Seek Entry-Level Jobs.”

In fact, Baby Boomers are forming the majority of new entrepreneurial ventures in the US and Canada right now, meaning we are the ones creating entry-level jobs for others. But all three of these “popular” Twitter posts are, in fact, meant to intimidate readers, not inform them, along with the stray Tweet from disgruntled individual users, virtually all of whom seem to be males in their early 20s, often with photos wearing watch caps, who say delightful things like “Boomers – Retire Now or Else” or “Don’t You Wish the Boomers Would Just Die?”

I’ve been specifically singled out as the recipient of sentiments like these even before introducing my Angriest Generation series. My favorite social networking site is Linked In, where I have a large and superb network of Connections, mostly over 40 and all extremely interesting people. My pet peeve at Linked In is the sheer number of obviously planted discussion posts from obviously planted Left-leaning operatives, doggedly glomming onto – and into – every discussion lending itself to their favorite theme, which is “Boomers Must Get Out of the Work Force Now and Hand Over All Remaining Paying Jobs to Obama Election Workers – Excuse Me, Younger People.”

Foolish Rabble-Rouser that I am, I have cheerfully waded into far too many of these “debates” in the past four or five months. But one was so incredibly striking, I saved excerpts from it for my files and am pasting some of them here.

The discussion started with a topic broached by a man identifying himself as a journalist asking: “As Boomer management consultants move towards retirement, will that open up new opportunities for younger business experts to move into the field?” This was a possibly loaded question to begin with, but the initiator dropped out of the discussion at this point.

A management consultant, now in my network, said he thought the opposite was true, that with the recession, Boomers were moving into consulting in greater numbers than ever before. And I chimed in with what is now my mantra: “Boomers turn 46-63 in 2009, and we are not retiring anytime soon.”

Another fellow agreed with me, saying “Boomers who have lost . . . their retirement funds must continue to work to rebuild the losses,” while the first consultant came back in to talk about “financial dislocation” for Boomers creating “major structural change.”

In other words, this little discussion was suddenly heading in a direction the Boomers-Retire-Now bunch wouldn’t care for. You would think – and hope – that every little topic discussion at a Linked In Group wouldn’t be of much interest to Propagandists Who Watch Over Us Constantly. But it seems to have come to somebody-or-other’s attention, because what happened next was truly extraordinary. And No, I don’t think I’m being paranoid, because several members of the Group sent messages to one another after this incident, basically saying, “What the Hey?”

For into our peaceful and happy little conclave waltzed someone who was not only a brand-new Group member, but – as of that moment – a brand-new Linked In member. I kid you not! This identity – female, although it could actually be male, beast, or political collective – was attached to a name, but had no details whatsoever in its profile, no Connections, no other Groups, no anything. The identity was apparently formed just for the purpose of coming to this Group and participating in this particular discussion.

Ms. Nutty Operative – let’s call her Nonie – at first said she was “close to 40″ but quickly scotched that and identified herself as “part of the younger generation.” Her first major argument was that it was “a waste of time and money” to train anyone over age 35 on unspecified “software packages,” because only the younger generation “has lived with e-mail and text messaging prior to joining the professional world” and “new business models are just being created for the younger generation’s opportunity.”

Besides the unforgivably stilted and barely literate phrasing, this “argument” is almost breathtakingly silly. As we’ve already said, Boomers have been using computers for business as long as there have been computers for business. And if you use computers for business, you certainly know all about E-mail. As for “text messaging” being either difficult to use or the primary basis for “new business models” – Goddess help us!

But at this point in the discussion, Nonie really dives off the deep end. She claims that “leaders’ inability to adapt to changing times” have caused the declines in “countless numbers of businesses . . . over the past two decades, starting with the Big 5 accounting firms, along with the nation’s car manufacturers” and that “the older generation” – which she identifies as Baby Boomers – have spurned “new technology,” embraced “negativity,” and stifled “innovation.”

Does one know where to start refuting this nonsense? First of all, Dear Nonie, there were originally the Big Eight accounting firms, not the Big Five, and they, along with the auto manufacturers and numerous other declining sectors, were run during these long declines primarily by the Baby Boomers’ parents’ generation, not by Boomers themselves.

These are mere quibbles, however. Because very few would say that it was refusal to embrace “new technology” – let alone E-mail and text messaging, which is Nonie’s singular definition of such technology – which was responsible for structural sector declines. Apparently Nonie hasn’t heard about things like outsourcing or immigration flows or misallocation of capital. Surely, she hasn’t heard of the accelerating scramble for rare resources, the “hollowing out” of the US manufacturing base, or the number one reason for sector dislocations: the relentless rise of immense, often centralized, formerly Third World economies, hell-bent on catching up to the West.

As for Boomers “embracing negativity” and “stifling innovation” – does that really deserve an answer, other than “Are you crazy, lady?”

Well, the others on the Group discussion board plowed into Nonie and pointed out some of her errors. Undaunted, she changed tack and started accusing us dastardly Boomers of betraying our 60’s ideals – by refusing to get out of the way and handing the country over to Millennials:

“What happened to your peace, love, and civil rights attitude?” she wrote. “President Obama is a ‘flower child’ in every sense of the definition. . . It is everyone’s job to recognize everyone’s potential. . . And being from the peace, not war, generation of the 1960’s, I would hope you would not prevent our nation’s youth from realizing their potential.”

Well, Kumbaya, and I am glad that Mr. Obama likes flowers – after all, he is from Hawaii. But are we to understand, Dear Nonie, that if we Boomers do not retire immediately, despite none of us actually being at the typical retirement age and, more importantly, despite the fact that by some estimates, 3/4 or more of us have had our retirement savings completely wiped out over the past few years, we are not only “preventing youth from realizing their potential,” but are also acting in a non-peaceful way?

Well, Yes, that is exactly what Ms. Nonie – and by extension, those who think like her, are saying! We Boomers “have focused on the negative of the younger generation,” Nonie continues. We have “made the business world more discriminatory than it should be.” And we have “created war” – yes, she actually said this! – by “segmenting the population.” Therefore, “it is time to retire (those) who ignore an entire group of people.”

Do you understand the progression this rhetoric has taken? You should, because silly as it is, the Anti-Boomers think it sounds good, and to them, sounds good seems to equal the truth.

I’m getting sick of Ms. Nonie even as I write this, so let me dismiss her last astounding wrap-up “argument” as quickly as I can: Who, precisely, is being “discriminatory” and discriminated against these days? Are Millennials – any Millennials – being refused jobs because they lack experience, or is the discrimination overwhelmingly aimed at older workers, who have been laid off and “downsized” in droves?

Or have Boomers, the generation that pioneered moving women and minorities and Vietnam vets and the disabled into managerial positions, been “discriminatory” in that regard compared to younger workers? Certainly not! And we have “focused on the negative” of younger workers how? – and when? Personally, I haven’t heard a peep from Boomers saying nasty things about Millennials, other than a few managers griping that they’re a tad opportunistic. It is younger workers who are overwhelmingly complaining about us – not us complaining about them.

Mommy, Mommy, An Operative Is Attacking Me!

I’ve used Ms. Nonie and the Linked In discussion thread she dominated as an example of the propaganda blitz Boomers are reeling from now. But such attacks are occurring regularly not only at social networking sites, but also in articles, blogs, and virtually everywhere else one turns.

If you’re faced with an Anti-Boomer barrage, how should you handle it? Here are some of the most common kinds of attacks I’ve encountered and how I think it is best to respond to them:

Baby Boomers are elderly, unfit, and over-the-hill.

The basic question of exactly who is a member of our generation keeps coming up, even among some in the media, who certainly should know better.

Whenever Boomers are “innocently confused” with those in our parents’ – or in the case of some younger Boomers, grandparents’ – generation, as with the infamous Mashable Boomer-as-Centenarian photo, be sure to speak up and knock the propagandist off his heels!

Baby Boomers turn only 46-63 in 2009. We are not remotely “elderly.” We tend to be extremely healthy and fit. And we are in what are commonly thought of as peak years for intellectual performance, productivity, creativity, and earnings power.

Baby Boomers are technological Neanderthals, out-of-touch with evolving technology.

As we’ve already pointed out, this is the canard to end all canards! Unless you fall back on Ms. Nonie’s “argument” that skill in text-messaging – at a party? in traffic? walking down the street and bumping into people? – is the “technology” which global business revolves around, Boomers are generally as adept using computers and computer technology as the generations behind them. And we have been at the forefront developing and/or managing every other “forward-looking” technology one can think of, including the “green” technologies Millennials seem to think is their special province.

As high or higher percentages of Boomers have science, engineering, or advanced business degrees as younger generations. And Boomers have had an exceptionally keen appreciation for entrepreneurship, still forming new small businesses at record rates.

Since the two most recent former presidents – Clinton and Bush – were Boomers, the Boomer generation is to “blame” for our nation’s current problems.

At any time, in terms of any generation, less than one-tenth of one percent of individuals within that generation are in positions of such power – whether in government, finance, media, or business – that they can actively make policy or directly influence historical circumstances.

To “blame” the 99.9 percent of all Boomers who have not had such power for the policies or actions of either the Clinton or Bush – or for that matter, the new Obama – administration is incredibly unfair and incredibly unhelpful. And I have never heard this kind of generational “blame” applied to any other generation except Boomers, literally proving it is a form of propaganda.

Moreover, there is always the tacit corollary to assigning “blame,” i.e. “You are to blame, and therefore you deserve to be punished.”

Baby Boomers are only in financial trouble now because they have spent so extravagantly the past several decades.

Once again, an attempt to place “blame” and to tar the many with the actions – in this case, the habits – of the few.

As even those with limited economic sensitivity can guess – purely by following popular culture – the gap between the Richest of the Rich and what I like to call “The Rest of Us” has widened substantially in this country the past few decades. Some of these Richest have been Baby Boomers, while others have been members of generations older or younger than Baby Boomers.

If you remove the inflationary effect, which distorts every generation’s spending habits more or less equally, there is little evidence that the average Baby Boomer has been more extravagant in his/her spending habits than previous or younger generations. In fact, many, if not most, Boomer-led households have managed to amass a smaller total of non-financial assets than their parents amassed – although some of this is due to the continued trend towards smaller family size.

Baby Boomers are only in financial trouble now because they haven’t saved enough.

Savings rates for the Boomer generation are not appreciably different than those of other generations.

Overall savings rates appear – and I stress appear – to have been declining the past couple of decades. But many believe this is a structural change reflecting where actual savings have gone and which kinds of savings show up in statistics.

For instance, with the low interest rates banks and savings and loan institutions have been granting recently, even on once-popular certificates of deposit, Boomers, along with everybody else, have placed less of their savings with such institutions.

At the same time, Boomers – again along with other generations – have been urged to put more and more of traditional savings into home ownership, a strategy that seemed sensible and prudent up until quite recently. This form of “savings” does not show up as such in government statistics.

Nor do many forms of “investment” that Boomers – along with everybody else – have been fervently urged to make during the past few decades. Various forms of derivative investments, for instance, do not get into the “savings” statistics categories, nor do many kinds of currency, commodity, or margin-based investments.

Some of these investments have been extremely hard-hit by recent events, of course, wiping out the true “savings” of an extremely large proportion of Boomers. To deny that such investments were ever “savings” to begin with is to add (great) insult to the (great) injury a large proportion of Boomers have experienced.

Literally the classic “kick a man when he’s down” ploy.

Baby Boomers have hoarded their wealth and are reluctant to share it with younger generations.

Amazing! At the same time some are accusing Boomers of not having saved enough or of squandering our life’s earnings on extravagant spending sprees, others are accusing us of holding on to vast hoards of wealth in Evil-Bond-Villain fashion – undoubtedly in undersea vaults guarded by private security forces adept in the martial arts. Selfish and self-centered as we Boomers are, we are preventing this wealth from being “shared” with kind and deserving humanitarians from the younger generations.

Those who spout this particular form of Anti-Boomer propaganda are basically playing with statistics. On a collective basis, Boomer wealth still looks impressive, simply because there are so many of us .

Factor out the few mega-rich Boomers and look at average assets, and our “hoarding” looks very much like “surviving.” And so much of our accumulated wealth consists of real estate – i.e. the homes we live in – viewing it as a “hoard” now seems a very cruel joke, indeed.

Baby Boomers have simply been running things too long. They need to retire gracefully.

Again, 99.9 percent – conservatively – of all Baby Boomers have been “running” nothing other than their own lives, their households, and their families.

Not a single Boomer has reached the “old-style” retirement age of 65, let alone the “new-style” retirement age of 70 or 72.

The youngest Boomers turn only 46 this year, and the majority of Boomers are in their 40s and 50s.

Those “theorists” who had hoped extraordinarily large numbers of Boomers would retire early should have theorized instead how to prevent the vast majority of us from losing all or most of our life’s savings in the events of the past few years.

Any (wealthy) Boomer capable of retiring early and “gracefully” has my blessing and that of his/her fellow Boomers, I’m sure. The rest of us (non-wealthy, and now possibly downright poor) Boomers may not have the luxury of retiring ever, the way things look right now!

We may see some light at the end of the tunnel when we’re 95 – or maybe 105.

Boomers voted for the Obama administration. If the Obama-ites are attempting to sweep you offstage now, you’re just getting what you voted for.

First of all, I sincerely hope the rash of Anti-Boomer propaganda is not coming directly from the Obama administration. I prefer to think it’s a rogue effort perpetrated by those who are so hell-bent on getting jobs for the very young election workers who helped Obama to victory, they don’t care whom they stomp on to get them – and the main Stomp-ees seem to be we Baby Boomers.

Moreover, while much Anti-Boomer sentiment is coming from the Far Left, I’ve heard some of it from those in other parts of the political spectrum, too, as well as from media mavens who are either prejudiced, uninformed, or both.

The last election turned out the way it did for numerous reasons, most having nothing whatsoever to do with sentiment favorable or unfavorable to Boomers. And I don’t think a single Baby Boomer would have voted – or will vote in the future – for any political party or group which comes out openly against our generation’s interests.

Which, of course, is exactly the point. Anti-Boomer propaganda is not only distasteful and unfair, it’s horrendously bad politics.

Boomers make up about one-third of the US population. Many of us feel we’ve been hurt. We’re mad about being hurt. And we’re not going to sit around and let ourselves be dissed on top of it!

Our hearts and souls and spirits are up for grabs now, emotionally and politically. Gurus, mavens, and politicians of all stripes would do well to keep that in mind.

For the Intro to the Baby Boomers-The Angriest Generation series, please go to: http://wp.me/pxD3J-2V

For the next story in this series, “Will Boomers Return Full Circle to Sophisticated Communes?” http://wp.me/pxD3J-x

For Ellen’s popular “serious humor” piece about Malice on the Internet, see: http://wp.me/pycK6-5

Baby Boomers-The Angriest Generation

by Ellen Brandt, Ph.D.

Introduction: We’re Here. We’re Angry. And It’s About Time Someone Listened To Us

Turning 46-63 in 2009 and making up about one-third of the US population, America’s vast Baby Boom generation may now be the angriest cohort in recent US history.

http://wp.me/pxD3J-3

You’re Decrepit, Greedy, Narcissistic Luddites – Plus You Have Cooties! Play Golf, Bake Cookies, and Turn Over the Country to Us

If you don’t think there’s a highly-organized propaganda campaign being waged against Baby Boomers, perhaps they’ve already messed with your mind and spirit. The fact that it’s bad politics doesn’t seem to deter our detractors. Maybe ridicule will help.

http://wp.me/pxD3J-8

Back To Sophisticated Communes – Will Baby Boomers Come Full Circle? Scott’s Story

After lifetimes of aggressive independence, Boomers may seek a sense of community as we age. The co-housing movement looks back to the free-spirited hippie communes of our youth but forward to a Utopia of health, learning, and productive work – without skimping on material comfort.

http://wp.me/pxD3J-x

Re-Engineered to Smithereens – Art’s Story

Once upon a time, when Baby Boomers ventured into the business world, those who could manage operations were Kings. But the ascendancy of financial re-engineering changed all that. Along with product lines and business units, even the most talented individuals turned into Pawns – and thereby became expendable.

http://wp.me/pxD3J-B

Will Boomers – and the GOP – Save Twitter?

The twin forces which could destroy Twitter are immature game-playing and political correctness, both taken to unreasonable – and sometimes illegal – extremes. The antidotes? Maturity and a renewed sense of inclusiveness.

http://wp.me/pxD3J-K

No Gold Watch – Nor Golden Parachute – When You Work For Pariah Corporation: The Story of Melissa and Phil

With close to 65 years of big-company experience between them, this perfect corporate couple kept their noses to the grindstone and their feet on the ground – until they lost a million dollars one very bad afternoon.

http://wp.me/pxD3J-N

A Chance For Romance – Annie’s Story

The Good News: More than half of all Baby Boomers are single. The Bad News: Hey! there isn’t any! If you’re a Baby Boomer, and you want to find new love or companionship, you can do it. And the current sea change in our national and personal value systems makes it easier.

http://wp.me/pxD3J-R

A Daughter Among Daughters Reaps Scorn – Suellen’s Story

When her elderly parents became ill, she gave up her job, her security, and her comfortable middle-class existence. If something isn’t done soon, she says, Baby Boomers will become the New Poor.

http://wp.me/pxD3J-1M

Who’s A Boomer? (And Who’s Not?)

Many people from other age groups – and even some members of the media – seem to have a rather fuzzy idea about who is and is not a bona fide member of the Baby Boom generation. Here’s the beginning of a helpful guide to some prominent Boomers among us.

http://wp.me/pxD3J-1Q

by Ellen Brandt, Ph.D.

The twin forces which could destroy Twitter are immature game-playing and political correctness, both taken to unreasonable – and sometimes illegal – extremes. The antidotes? Maturity and a renewed sense of inclusiveness.

It begins and ends with security. No one – at least no one sane – wants to participate in any Internet forum where one’s data, identity, and the basic integrity of one’s computer system are at risk. Twitter’s celebrated Denial of Service attack a few days ago simply verified what many had suspected for some time: That Twitter was being sabotaged from within and that if they didn’t clean up their act very soon, those well-publicized 40 percent quick dropout rates could go even higher.

In Twitter’s case, security equals maturity, which in turn equals the willingness of all participants to tolerate members and opinions they do not like, rather than bully them into a clique-induced submission by means fair or – mostly – foul.

I don’t know if I buy Twitter’s public explanation that the DOS attack was an attempt to stifle an outspoken Georgian blogger. My first thought was that it was my own Twitter Stalker’s – Agatha-Anne’s – crude attempt to stifle me! (See We’ve Sent You Black Roses and Are Coming to Slaughter Your Pet Hamster http://wp.me/pycK6-L

I am probably just being paranoid. But no matter which Enemy of the Clique was targeted in the massive attack, Twitter’s willingness to discuss openly what kind of attack it was shows that they – and everybody else – now acknowledges the seriousness of the problem.

An organized Clique of Script Kiddies – mostly under 25, if not 18 – with numerous chips on their shoulders and a vast amount of “talent,” when it comes to the creation and spreading of malware, can no longer be allowed to run roughshod over the vast Twitter community. Unpopular opinions – at least unpopular to this Clique – must be allowed to be voiced without impediment. And Twitter members the Clique doesn’t like must be allowed to be part of Twitter, without being persecuted, harassed, and bullied.

In the 21st Century, Do We Really Want “Tribes?”

I believe there are two things wrong with Twitter, stemming from who its early initiators were and what they wanted from the service.

One major group of early initiators were Kids – teens and some preteens, most of them nice, normal, wholesome Kids out to have fun, rather than make trouble. But whenever you assemble large numbers of Kids on the Internet today, the Script Kiddies are sure to follow.

Script Kiddies, in case you just bought your first computer yesterday, are young people who like to hack, or play games with computer code. Some of them are extremely good at it. And some of them – alas! – have axes to grind, sharpen, and wield to chop off all of our figurative heads.

Twitter itself helped the Script Kiddies greatly by permitting them – it still permits them – to join the service under multiple identities. So an expert 19-year-old hacker in Sweden – let’s call him Thor – could not only sign up for Twitter under his real name, with his real photo attached. He might also sign up for Twitter as Stephanie, a Mom of three from Pasadena who’s a part-time Yoga instructor; Hang, a 47-year-old biology teacher in Taiwan whose hobby is bonsai; Eric, a 31-year-old attorney from Toronto who likes motocross; or Buffy, a 4-year-old Siamese cat, who blissfully Tweets “Mew, mew, Meow, mew, Meow” to her little kitty friends at 15-minute intervals.

The ability to use such multiple identities – 15? 20? 700? – allows individual Script Kiddies, or worse yet, organized groups of them, to bend Twitter quite literally to their advantage, spreading news, product reviews, political opinions, or anything else they wish around the globe by pure volume of posts, or in Twitter parlance, Tweets.

Some, like advertisers or political organizers, might think of this as a very good thing, provided they somehow “owned” the Script Kiddies and could get them to do what they wanted. To marketers of any ilk, this is the bright upside of Twitter, a world where a hot new phone, CD, movie, or political candidate can get oodles of attention very fast. And if those touting said “product” are actually ten teens in ten different countries with 100,000 different identities, so be it.

Some companies advertising things have used Twitter well by cultivating Cliques of both ordinary Kids and computer-savvy Script Kiddies. But political groups, like the Far Left Moveon.org, have used it much better, their triumph being the effective use of Twitter in the nomination and election of Barack Obama.

But these political groups, mostly on the Far Left, seem to have conveniently forgotten that the Script Kiddie portion of their eager Twitter Troops are not only good at organizing things, but also very good at attacking “enemies,” real or imagined, with malware, because they’re deluded into thinking it supports a “greater good” or, more likely, because they think it’s “fun.”

The Script Kiddies were already swell-headed with their success in the Obama campaign and their supposed success in promoting political instability prior to the Iranian elections. So lately, they’ve been emboldened to bully, harass, and send repeated doses of malware to more or less anyone on Twitter they just don’t like: the Georgian blogger, Britney Spears, the political Right, or your Aunt Nancy in Cleveland who fired them from their babysitting job for dropping that newborn . . . Even a politically-Centrist sweet, lovable, inoffensive little Baby Boomer like me can get hacked to death on Twitter by Agatha-Anne, because she didn’t like a Tweet I made my first few days on the service!

And while I hate to criticize a blameless idol, this fella Godin’s best-selling book about Tribes and how they are the in-thing to emulate in social networking hasn’t helped, either. Godin’s thesis is that Collective models, with everyone being essentially equal, are not as viable, in terms of Internet interactivity, as Tribal models, where a small number of trendsetters take over and dominate.

In many ways, this is simply an apologia for the Followed and Followers scheme at Twitter, where if you Follow few but are Followed By many, you have achieved true Celebrity status, whether or not you in any way deserve it. You are a trendsetter and you are Chief of some sort of Tribe, even if you’re Buffy the Siamese cat and your Tribe is other cat avatars who answer your every Mew with Mew-Mew-We-Love-Mew-Buffy.

Frankly, if I have to be part of a Tribe, then I choose the Yanomami in the Amazon, with their cute little poison darts. Or those brave Native Americans in coastal Alaska who harpoon great whales from rawhide dinghies the size of my desk.

But I digress. Whether or not the Tribal model is useful for anything but setting Twitter apart from Linked In and Facebook, many already swell-headed Script Kiddies have taken it as a sort of philosophical excuse for very bad behavior.

We are not Followers, we’re Followed. We are not Soldiers, we’re Generals. We are not Apache warriors, we’re Geronimo. Or if we’re girls, Geronimette. So we can do whatever we want, ethical or not, legal or criminal. If you make a Tweet we consider politically incorrect, we can send you as many viruses as we want to, keylog you until your fingers are arthritic, write hatchet blogs saying you’re a serial mistress of wildebeests, or if Twitter itself offends us, lock it down for days to make ourselves perfectly clear.

Tooth Whiteners, Ladies of the Night, and CNN

The second group to embrace Twitter avidly early on was, of course, Big Media – both Big Media West, or Hollywood, and Big Media East, those (very) few dominant print and television outlets which have sought to crowd everyone else off the Internet since there was an Internet. Lately, these few Big Media dominators have permitted a (very) few Internet blog groups, like the Huffington Post and Mashable, to join them in a dubious quest for Twitter supremacy.

Like any advertisers, Big Media loves it when trendsetting cliques, whether Script Kiddies playing at being Tribal Leaders or anyone else, up to and including Buffy the Cat, touts their products, be they films, music, TV shows, or newspaper articles.

But Big Media has been far less successful in corralling and micro-managing such Tribal groups than have some political organizations. It’s hard to convince ordinary Kids, let alone ornery Script Kiddies, to tout something they don’t like or don’t agree with, even if it’s a movie from a major studio or a feature story from a dominant outlet. So we’ve experienced Celebrity feuds, Celebrity stalkers, Celebrity defection, and ultimately, disgust with All Things Celebrity on the part of many Twitterites.

More serious to me, as a member of Little Media, is Big Media’s remaining silent in the face of malicious attacks on independent media outlets, whether on the Internet or off, on the basis of political or ideological orientation. It’s a case, as I said in a controversial blog title – if not a controversial blog – of We Don’t Like What You Wrote. You Should Be Poisoned, Garrotted, Stabbed With Stiletto Heels, Thrown Off a Tall Building, and Have Vultures Eat Your Liver (See http://wp.me/pycK6-5 )

Although I’m an outspoken Centrist, by no means on the Far Right, my already popular Internet series, Baby Boomers-The Angriest Generation, has been maliciously attacked by Script Kiddies Bearing Malware, on the grounds that I support Boomers’ right not to be forced into retirement decades too early, so more jobs can open up for young Obama election workers – excuse me, Millennials. (See http://wp.me/pxD3J-3>

I’ve heard numerous horror stories of others who’ve made an “upsetting” – to the Far Left – Tweet or two becoming instant victims of malware, threats, or other forms of harassment. One particular tactic that I find especially disturbing – so much so that I intend to write another blog on this topic alone – is Script Kiddies’ making “spam” accusations about Tweets which in no way fit the definition of “spam.” These accusations have serious Freedom of Speech implications, and instead of ignoring them, Big Media should be jumping all over the accusers.

I’ll give only a brief synopsis here. The term “spam” should refer to excessive and offensive advertising announcements aimed at those who would prefer to “opt out.” That’s why there are pop-up and mail filtering options on the Internet, to prevent all those “Cure for Impotence” and “Here’s a Hot Stock Tip” ads from reaching your E-mail or your sensitive eyes.

By definition, “spam” has a money-making dimension. Someone wants you to part with your dollars. An invitation, a political announcement, or a free newsletter are not “spam,” and those who say they are distort the definition solely to express their personal preferences.

A print article or blog, whether of a political nature or not, is most assuredly not “spam.” Yet this is the primary non-definition of “spam” various Far Left Script Kiddies have been spouting and making accusations about at Twitter and some other sites. It’s gotten so bad that whenever I see a post on Twitter accusing somebody of “spamming,” I know automatically that what they’re objecting to is a link to an article or blog with a message that is considered Right-of-Center, from a source that is part of Little Media and therefore unprotected.

Never once have I seen anything from the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal or CNN described by the Script Kiddies as “spam.” Never once have I seen a blog from the Huffington Post or Mashable so described.

But even more shocking, never once have I seen the Script Kiddies incensed about real spam! They don’t complain at all about “Profit from Foreclosure” or “Get 10,000 Followers” or “The Best Tooth Whitener Available” ads that pollute Twitter incessantly.

They don’t complain about the monotonously horrid advertisements for the Trump Network. Nor even about the numerous solicitations from Ladies of the Night, who regularly post photos of nude body parts on Twitter, much to the delight, I’m sure, of 11-year-old boys and others of a prurient nature.

But post a link to an article or blog from a source that the Script Kiddies consider Non-Left, and accusations of “spam” will come out of the Cyber-woodwork in three minutes flat.

To Cure Doctrinaire-itis, Let in Fresh Air

So is there any hope for Twitter?

Strangely enough, I think the system was already beginning to self-correct, even before the massive Denial Of Service attack linked to hacker havoc.

Clearly, the humongous dropout rate now confirmed for Twitter, at the same time other social media sites like Linked In are growing steadily, proves that there are almost as many people who don’t like the current situation there as do.

And frankly, I think the two elements of Twitter most adult users – anyone over 30 – dislike most are the flaws in its security and the whole Followers-Following business, which advertisers, Big Media, and that Godin fella may find appealing, but which a large proportion of The Rest of Us consider elitist, insulting, and socioculturally retrograde.

Since these are also the two elements of Twitter most closely associated with bad behavior by Script Kiddies, I think we’re seeing a general dissatisfaction with Script Kiddies being given the run of the place. Why do I say so? Here are some hints that people are creating Their Own Private Twitters beyond the reach of arbitrary Tribal rules and pressures:

Equal numbers of Followers and Following: More and more often, we see users whose Follower-Following ratios are just about dead-even, meaning they are shunning the concept of following Celebrities or Big Media pundits and choosing to connect more naturally and equally with potential friends the way they do on Linked In and Facebook. There are now some applications that allow you to see if any Followers have recently dropped you, in which case you can easily drop them, too.

Reluctance to Retweet – Or Blindly Recommend – Pieces of Information On Somebody’s Say So: As a lifelong member of the Media, I find it absolutely appalling that anyone should agree to Retweet a link to an article, blog, or any other kind of commentary without first reading it themselves and agreeing it is worth recommending. I don’t want people to Retweet my articles and blogs unless they like them and believe they might be informative and enjoyable to others. And I would not consider Retweeting other people’s work I didn’t like and find interesting. Thankfully, more Twitter users are beginning to agree.

Refusal to Follow Someone Without Making the Choice Oneself: It may be profound heresy to say so, but I think Twitter’s popular Follow Fridays are essentially silly. It’s bad enough that Twitter’s one- or two-sentence profile bios tell you next-to-nothing about candidates you might want to connect with. But at least they tell you something. (Buffy the Cat’s says she’s a astrophysicist who plays the clarinet and reads Proust.) More Twitterers are passing on the chance to add folks to their Following roster because that fella with the beard in Pensacola – how the heck did he get into my network? – says they should.

Shunning the Concept That the More Followers You Have, the Better Off You Are: Not only is Twitter ineffective when viewed as a popularity contest, but networks patched together randomly can easily harm their amassers. Take a look at virtually any politician’s Followers list on Twitter, and you’ll find crowds of Ladies of the Night, Tooth Whitener salesmen, Stock Tip purveyors, and Trump Network groupies. Opposing politicians could have a field day publicizing these lists, if it weren’t for the fact that theirs are probably just as bad.

On the other hand, those who regularly prune the unsolicited Followers from their networks and build them slowly but surely by connecting with those who seem sympatico can actually achieve quality over quantity. And more are trying to do it.

Yes, Twitter seems at last self-correcting. And those who are taking the above actions and creating their Own Private Twitters overwhelmingly seem to come from two unlikely groups: Baby Boomers and the GOP.

The Right – and the Center – have begun to assert their interests quite enthusiastically on Twitter over the past few months. For instance, no other bloc of Twitter users has taken so avidly to the use of hashtags, little identifying badges that proclaim a Tweet is coming from someone who’s proud to display an affiliation with this, that, or the other informal group.

Among the most popular are #tcot, used by conservatives; #tlot, for libertarians; #teaparty, a grab bag of those disenchanted with the Obama administration; and #freedom, which sounds a bit like a feminine hygiene product, but which I suspect has something to do with the Right.

No matter what your political beliefs, if you’re a Twitter user, you should welcome this new broadening of the spectrum of active Twitterers. I say this, because those on the Right tend to be both security-conscious and, nowadays, the primary champions of Freedom of (Social Networking) Speech, since they are the ones the Script Kiddies have been harassing. A slew of local Republican politicians and candidates have recently jumped into the Twitter pool. And one feels they’re not gonna put up with a lot of the nonsense that has previously gone on.

And while the hashtag business seems in keeping with the Tribal thesis, even a cursory survey of Right-leaning Twitter users proves they tend to have much more balanced Followers-to-Following lists than the general Twitter public. This is probably partly a function of there being fairly few Celebrity Republicans on the network for potential groupies to pant after. But it also undoubtedly has something to do with the non-Far Left trending older.

Which brings us to the group which will literally save Twitter, the same way it has saved Linked In and other social networking sites. That group, of course, is we Baby Boomers.

For one thing, like the Right-of-Center population, Boomers have borne the brunt of a great deal of Internet-based bullying and harassment lately. (See my article on Anti-Boomer propaganda: http://wp.me/pxD3J-8 )

We are sick and tired of being “dissed,” and we are unlikely to let a social network like Twitter “diss” us, either via malware exploits from the Script Kiddies or by inane urging to participate in Tribal rites like Celebrity-gawking.

On the other hand, we Boomers are exceptionally comfortable with the essential concept of Internet networking – much more so, IMO, than are younger or older generations.

I don’t know why this has not been more widely discussed – but Hey! let’s discuss it now: We Boomers are and have always been both intensely independent and a generation of gung ho joiners.

Does that sound contradictory? Because it’s not. Boomers have been fanatic about self-actualization and improvement from the womb on. We don’t just root for our favorite teams. We’re active in sports on both the team and the individual level. We don’t just watch cooking shows on television. We devise our own recipes and plan elaborate dinners. We don’t just listen to political speeches. We debate political policy or are active in politics ourselves.

But Boomers also tend to be extremely social animals. We gravitated to various clubs from kindergarten on up. We were Cub Scouts and Brownies and belonged to 4-H. We were active in drama or band or the school newspaper. We played football or tennis or golf or field hockey. We joined sororities and fraternities. And we may still be active in P.T.A. or Rotary or Kiwanis or church and synagogue groups.

We’re good at it, too! Some think we’re the last generation to have cultivated the social skills, from saying “Please” and “Thank You” to throwing fun parties, writing persuasive letters, or supervising effective business meetings.

Boomers have taken to Internet social networks as ducks to water. We make friends. We establish business contacts. We collaborate on projects. We moderate and steer on-line discussions, because we tend to do it better than most others.

In short, when we start to populate a social network, we invariably make it better.

Twitter will be no exception.

What Do You Think?

What do you like most – and least – about Twitter?

How could Twitter and other social networks improve to satisfy Boomers?

Does Godin’s “Tribe” construct appeal to you – or should Tribes be relegated to the deepest reaches of New Guinea and Borneo?

Have you been harassed for your political beliefs or anything else you Tweeted on Twitter?

Do we need to bring the guillotine back specifically for Script Kiddies?

I’ve now written that article on False Spam Accusations Used As a Political Weapon: http://wp.me/pycK6-1b

Readers might also like to see the Introduction to the new Media Revolution subseries at EllenInteractive: http://wp.me/pycK6-19