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Yesterday, in his weekly column, Michael Sansolo wrote about how going to “The Simpsons Movie” got him thinking about this emerging generation and all that they do and don’t know: “Think about it in our industry. This year’s 18-year-olds can’t remember a time when Wal-Mart didn’t run lots of food stores and didn’t sell more things to eat then anyone else out there. They aren’t burdened with the strange belief that food is only purchased in supermarkets. They don’t remember a time when natural food stores or organics were for “tree huggers” completely out of the main stream. Whole Foods and stores like it are pretty much everywhere … The problem is that many of us who they work for do remember all of this. We do remember differences and even a time when Milhous was an unusual middle name. And we get frustrated with those who don’t know what we know, when in many ways we should be listening.”

MNB user Cleve Young responded:

Michael spends a long time talking about what young people today don’t remember, and seems to be worried about this ‘new’ development. There are two points he is conveniently missing. When he was 18-22 years old I guaranteed his parent’s generation was saying the exact same things about him. He didn’t remember the World Wars, the Great Depression, the harsh early days of Industrialization, cars being an expensive novelty, lack of electricity in so much of rural America, limited medical care, no television, incredibly limited selection in mostly tiny mom and pop stores, and on and on. He didn’t remember and therefore was lost to all those experiences had to teach. At a certain point in life you realize that all the education and ‘learning’ in the world means little until you actually live it. We can tell our kids relentlessly about what we experienced in the past and they will never truly ‘understand’ it all.

The second point he is missing, and which so many in our industry seem to miss, is how much this new generation does remember. They have fully lived the Starbucks on every corner, the ubiquity of Wal-Mart, online shopping, and all the others Michael mentions. They remember this more intimately and fundamentally in ways we just do not understand. This memory allows them to not only understand the changes in our society better, but also to better identify needs and opportunities that are arising based upon those changes.

Remembrance is important for learning, but it is also important to remember that we live in a dynamic, ever-changing and evolving world. We should remember the past and remember that we still have so much to learn. There are so many memories to pass on to our younger generations, and so many they have to pass on to us.

Another MNB user wrote:

I am one of those who remembers most of what you are talking about. Granted, I am in my late 40's (did I just admit to that?), but I can, modestly, state that I am well read (and, yes, I LOVE Harry Potter). Being in the retail industry, I often bring up the fact that our newest employees/customers are plugged into a computer of some sort more often than not and that our industry MUST change to conform to this idea.

Unfortunately, I am often ignored or glossed over. Of course, as a 'lowly' bean counter, I am not in the decision-making marketing circles. But, I CAN and WILL continue to voice this opinion. Maybe, MAYBE some day someone will listen...

MNB user Ted C. File wrote:

I certainly concur with many of your comments. Having children, grand-and now great grand children I watch them with their games, advanced math books, enjoy their multitude of sports activities and the like. The unfortunate situation is they don't know about yesteryear nor do they really care. How sad it is when they do not understand about War, discontent among nations, the US constitution, the Bill of Rights, Gettysburg and the battles of the Revolution. You are correct on many issues. But isn't it past time when we need to help the new generations understand what we went through and are going through right now --- to protect this country and the rights of liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

I know you love this country and are trying to make it better. Wouldn't it be great if some major chain would take the time to develop an "I love America" year round promotion. Sure some people wouldn't get it but what an impact it could have on our country long term.

It's time we all look around the corner and see what is on the horizon, and if we don't concur that it makes life worth living then let’s make some changes. I'm willing to do that!

KC's View: