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The Age of Empowerment

  • In the 1950s – the outsiders
  • In the 1960s – the hippies
  • In the 1970s – the hangover
  • In the 1980s – the punks
  • In the 1990s – generation X
  • In the new millennium we have the age of empowerment

sp902_die_hippy_die.jpgAs a society, we’ve always had ‘the younger generation’ that bucked the status quo. In every decade we’ve heard how people will rise up and change the world. The difference between then and now is youth has a voice- the Internet.

The spin in favor of Google began today- it’s not big brother, it’s little brother peering in on you. With Google & the Internet, you can do and say almost anything with little fear of being silenced- there isn’t much the status quo can do about it. What I find most interesting is that I believe the status quo is actually listening to its younger generation, maybe for the first time ever. The simple fact is- the younger generation is dictating how major corporations operate, speak, walk, talk, look, and even profit in some cases.

When I joined Facebook two weeks ago, it told me what I already knew- folks in my hometown in the midwest have no Internet presence. My friends from school do not exist, and I’m onlya younger thirty-something. Their family businesses have no web address- it is as if my generation has vanished. For reasons I can only guess, my peers are still either on the fence, or afraid of the Internet and have yet to be brought into this so-called ‘age of empowerment.’ The proof is there for all to see, when I searched Facebook, I didn’t see my old high school sweetheart, I saw her children, when I searched for my best friend from high school, I saw his son, when I searched my family, I found my younger brothers- not my parents.

This new reality goes far beyond the walls of real estate, and it is profound. Anyone who says we’ve seen this before is dismissing the voice our younger generation has- they’re even stars in their own universe now crossing over into our universe, or are we crossing into theirs? The question really becomes, how far will we ‘the elder generation’ go in bending to the demands to the empowered generation? How far do we flex to the so-called ’empowering professionals’ like Zillow, Redfin, and others who believe that by simply waiting out the mainstream, providing the medium, this new generation will meet them in the middle. We as a society are being twisted and contorted into something different- something we’ve never seen before…

No company or person has written the book on the social generation, in fact, it’s being written before our very eyes. How we as professionals and regular people design the next generation is up to each of us individually. Any company that believes they have the fix on how to proceed in this new era is blinded by themselves and may well be the ones who ultimately fail in meeting this generation in the middle. It stands to reason that standing still and observing may very well be the best advice for those looking for the way forward- or you could find yourself diving head first into the history books with other failed cultures of the past.

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Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.



  1. Daniel Rothamel

    October 14, 2007 at 12:56 am

    I think that the important thing for businesses to do is ENGAGE. The interesting thing about the current trend in social media is that it is driven by relationships, even if they aren’t always face-to-face or even on the phone. In many ways, the old techniques of prospecting for new clients still applies, it is just being done through a different medium.

  2. Benn Rosales

    October 14, 2007 at 5:32 am

    I agree with that completely, but it is a very shallow (I don’t me you) look into the change as a whole- If folks do not look at the entire picture (which has yet to really talked about) then you miss out on opportunites. I believe you should engage, just don’t dive off the deepend and leave what works behind.

  3. April Groves

    October 14, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    It is an interesting development. My parents have email so they can exchange pictures and jokes, and a myspace that I built and maintain so they could see eveybody’s family pictures. But they shop online, but they don’t buy. They worry about security.

    People my age (about yours too) that didn’t have a reason to get into the cyberworld in their twenties, will be hesitant to now. Not for sure, but I would guess the learning curve and the lack of time would be the two biggest factors.

    Now, we have an upcoming generation that lives in secondlife, dates on myspace, and learns business through linked in. Hopefully, when the shine wears dull, we will remember balance between the tubes (cyber) and the trolley (face to face).

    Wonderful thing, the cyber world, but you are right not to dismiss it as a passing phase of a younger generation. We aren’t talking about Elvis here – we are talking international commerce of product, services and ideas.

  4. Benn Rosales

    October 14, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    “We aren’t talking about Elvis here – we are talking international commerce of product, services and ideas.”

    But you see, that’s the point- they ARE talking elvis (Kanye West), adults are the only ones talking business, and we as businesses are spending millions to try to fit into the mold, um, oh yeah, there isn’t a mold. The summary? Pick your version of the mold wisely.

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