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On Being Stood Up and Generational Differences

I had two meetings scheduled today; one with a mid-to-late 30s guy and another with an early-to-mid 20s guy. Both are in the media space, each working for hugely influential companies.

The older guy sent me an email this morning saying something came up – let’s postpone. We communicated and rescheduled. These things happen. The second guy never came to the restaurant we were supposed to meet at. Yep, I was stood up.

The younger, impassioned me would be in a fire-filled rage; the older, wiser, more mature me, instead, shrugs it off knowing there are bigger issues in life (but I can still write about it!). Evolution, my friends. Evolution.

I’ve never been stood up before. Ever. Not by a romantic interest. Not for a business meeting. Not by a friend. If a girl, potential client or buddy can’t make it to the appointed location at the allocated time, they have sent some kind of communication: phone, email, text, IM.

Today, I was stood up for a lunch. I don’t know if there was any malicious intent (I can’t really imagine it was on purpose), but the fact is, I waited at the suggested restaurant for an hour. 60 minutes. 3600 seconds. With no phone call, no email, no text. No nothing.

We were scheduled to meet at 1. At 1:30, I sent an email saying, “I’m here if we’re still on,” figuring he was running late and that he’d quickly respond. Nothing. I sent another email at 2pm saying, “Hope everything is OK – It’s now 2 and I need to get back,” thinking I’d get an email, text or call apologizing for not showing up and not contacting me. Nothing. (and to make sure he was OK, when I got home, I checked my twitter feed – and sure enough, there were tweets from his account – so, thankfully, I know he wasn’t in an accident or anything terrible.)

I even confirmed yesterday that we were still on for 1pm. I got a response with the affirmative. “See you then.”

Now, gentle reader, you may be thinking, “Maybe the other person had something come up.” To which I say, a quick text, tweet, email, phone call saying, “can’t make it. talk later” would have sufficed. Just think if you had a business meeting and the person you waited an hour for didn’t show up – would you trust that person to do business with? Now, this wasn’t a business meeting, per se – no official agenda, but as a communications agency owner, there’s usually a fair amount of business talk when I take a lunch – even with friends that I’ve known for 20 years.

Naturally, since both my meetings today were cancelled, it’s easy to draw parallels between the right way and wrong way to communicate (also, since, you know, I communicate for a living, I’m quite sensitive to how others communicate). This experience has also contributed to my running inner-dialogue of ‘generational differences.’

As I’ve been thinking about the notions of generational differences for quite some time, I’ve noticed that no matter how we define different generations, it comes down to us, individually. Your perspective at 33 is a lot different than when you were 23 – so I don’t think the idea of Gen X vs. Millennials is the issue, but instead, that of maturity. It’s no coincidence that the older we become, the more conservative we get. And not just in a political or economic perspective, but how we handle issues, situations and crises. The impulses and indiscretions of our days of invincibility, our youth, give way to reflection and retrospection and responsibility. I’m sure I’ll be having this same discussion when I’m 43, looking back on my 30s, and think, “man, was I dumb then.” Evolution.

Most times, situations dictate how we react and respond. If I were in my 20s and I was stood up, I probably would have been very upset. In my 30s, just water under the bridge. Too many other things in life to irk me; not getting a lunch with someone won’t raise my blood pressure. 

As a phrase on Twitter that’s become synonymous with feeling old states: “Get Off My Lawn!”



About joshsternberg

Josh Sternberg is the content strategist for The Washington Post. Prior to that he was the media reporter for Digiday. Additional bylines include: The Atlantic, The Awl, Pacific Standard, Mashable, Huffington Post, Mediaite.


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