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  • Writer's pictureBrad Cochrane

The Generational Bear

Updated: Feb 1

If you surprised a Mama Grizzly Bear, what would you do?

I did once. Terrifying, vivid, and beautiful, that bear was on my mind as I traveled to Alaska recently to speak on generational differences. And it got me musing humorously: would the way we react to a bear be influenced by generational patterns?

Members of older Radio Generation grew up in the Great Depression and always thought of themselves as poor. Upon seeing the bear, they’d have thought of it as a physical resource to be used and a recipe for Bear Stew would spring to mind.

War Babies grew up during and just after World War II as the United States reorganized itself along military lines and operational hierarchy. The pecking order is paramount, and they’d have shot the bear just to show who’s in charge.

For the Baby Boomers, who grew up playing with a lot of other kids, success is all about relationships and getting along. They’d have made friends with the bear and enticed her into singing a round of camp songs.

The Gen Xers, left on their own by working parents, like to get to things done quickly so they can move onto the next task. The most efficient time-saving solution to “The Bear Problem” is simply to run.

Bridging the gap between Gen Xers and Millennials are the Xennials; born in an analog world but having to adapt to the digital world by their late teens. If a bear appeared in their path, they’d send a stream of pepper spray the old girl’s way and then report the incident on their smart phones.

The Millennials grew up in a world of instant information and digital friendships. At the first sign of bear, they’d get online and research “What to do if you see a female grizzly bear” and then check with their friends for recommendations.

The generation coming of age now is sometimes referred to as Nexters. Coming near a bear, I’m pretty sure their phone would record the date, place, and time while combining that data with additional information so that others could avoid the “bear slowdown” and take an alternate trail. Then they’d take a selfie with the bear.

What did I do when I encountered the bear? I simply stood quietly and exuded friendliness, good feelings, and peaceful intentions. My charm offensive worked for she sniffed twice and disappeared into the bush. Yes, that makes me the archetypal Baby Boomer.

If you surprised a Mama Grizzly Bear, what would you do?

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