Reflections of a baby boomer

Chit Juan

Chit Juan

I recently read a Facebook post  of my nephew Rommel: “Our children will never know the terror of calling your crush on a landline and having their parents answer the phone!”

True. Today’s generation will never experience landlines like we used to.

Landlines taught you good manners and right conduct, or GMRC. When you talked too long on the phone, a “partyline” came on to remind you that they also needed to call or are expecting a call. So you hung up quickly.

Yes, lines were shared by two parties; and sometimes it would be your next door neighbor whose brother was your crush!

And then there were “crosslines:” voices from faraway that somehow got entangled into your wires and somehow listened in on you or you got wind of their conversation—now known as convo. Ah, such terms.

Technology taught us new things though. Criminals could be located oh so easily. A bad practice such as punishing animals goes viral and the guilty party apprehended within hours. Thank God for technology, in this sense.

But technology also made us tentative. Many meetings are set by text messages on the day itself! Planning is difficult because everyone else wants to just “text-text” for the final venue and time. And with being tentative comes lack of commitment. Time was when you had to schedule meetings months in advance, and no way will it be reset.

Notebooks, during our growing up years, were pads of paper bound by spiral wire or sewn at the ribs (the middle part). Today, notebooks are small computers. So, I still find it bothersome that people take notes on their laptops or iPads/ tablets.

Sometimes you do not know if they are truly interested in what you are saying or they are checking Facebook or Twitter. In the guise of live tweeting, they are now “allowed” to have their smartphones in their hands while listening to an esteemed speaker or a special honorable person. Who knows what is happening in those phones? And this is why it gets more difficult to focus. To listen. To pay attention.

Once I organized a meeting between two friends and while one pounded on his new Blackberry Z10, the other one thought Mr. Blackberry was not listening to her spiel. I had to explain to the lady that the gentleman was taking notes, and not texting. But, how will we ever know what happens in those smartphones?

I miss those days when people listened and you did not have to say “naked meeting please!” A naked meeting means “no phones on the table, no texting and full attention!”

Today, unless it is a meeting of boards which I belong to, most meetings are casual, and prone to unfocused discussions. But they say it is the new normal. I have yet to adjust. I feel my blood rush to my head each time people do not focus and have to get up and take calls during meetings.

I think it is like going to a party and imagine everyone on their phones, texting instead of socializing and having great conversations in person. People now even are texting in church! But while there are apps like Divine Office and people reading the gospel from iPads, you never really know what they are reading unless you look over their shoulder.

I miss the good old days when values meant knowing when to shut up, when to speak and when to excuse oneself to use the telephone. We had courses like Character Education and Good Manners and Right Conduct (GMRC). Today, it is left to parents to try and inculcate such values in their offspring.

Ah, to be born as a baby boomer (officially 1946-64) is to be in between generations of digital natives and digital immigrants as Donald Lim, a MAP colleague once said. And yes I am a digital immigrant. But with regards values and proper conduct, I wish it stayed the same. Values cannot be learned on Google. They are learned over time, in an atmosphere that supports them.

How do we inculcate values through Twitter? Or Facebook? Let me know and I will start to throw my notebooks away!

Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra and Podium malls. She also heads the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates, youth and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at


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  1. I am a baby boomer. And I miss the good old days. I even miss how my father would feel the temperature of the phone with his palm, and when it was hot because of prolonged use, then I got a scolding or a stern reminder. But I am who I am, respectful and courteous, because of how my father, mother and the school teachers taught me. I see less of this now. There were no phone lines in many homes specially and in the provinces. One had to go to a PLDT station to make a long distance call, it was always a source of anxiety for us when we wanted to know if my father, who travelled by plane to a far province, had arrived safely. We had to wait for a telegram confirming that he did or a telephone call that always got disconnected. But the anxiety and worry over his safety re-inforced our love for him. And the bonding that followed his arrival was intense. I know there are advantages to being able to connect so easily with people now, but I still would not want to be born in today’s generation.