New Technology, New Relationships, Fresh Hope!

A friend of mine has gone from being a professional photographer, shooting film in England, to being a Digital Creative Director in New York City. Alas that hadn’t saved him from his misery. Just a few days before his 50th birthday he was lying awake in an unfamiliar hotel room. It was around 4 AM when he reached the stark and reassuringly brutal conclusion that his career – as it once was – is now well and truly over, in every sense of the word!

A Man who has Health has Hope. And a Man with Hope still has everything.

Older man struggling with technologyMy friend is right of course. It’s the same conclusion a 50-year-old former HR director reached after years of no work and spiralling debt. He’s got a reprieve for now, and when he got a high-paying temporary contract, this tough, always smiling Irishman, went home and literally burst into tears.

Chat Technology helps Men!

For me the lesson is not so much that new technology has destroyed the livelihoods of many professional middle-aged men – that’s a given – but that it has pushed many into opening up and reaching out in ways that would never have happened before. I know about the reactions of the two men above because one emailed me from his dark and distant hotel room, while the other shared a very long and emotional phone call with me.

“Nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles” ~ Charles Chaplin

Collapse, failure, fading powers – they’re all around us. It’s so common to hear about a company shutting down, or people you know having to sell their house. Others talk about food banks as if it’s a normal part of living. Things have become so different to the days when we were riding the crest of that last wave. Back then, we talked about more important things, like the Bluetooth in your Mercedes or whether the nanny needed her own wing in the house.

Times are changing and changing fast. I think that today’s man is digging deeper into his mind more than at any time ever. Your middle-aged male has been really hard hit by the current recession, hard enough to crack open and let it all out. And the interesting thing is that we’re becoming more like women when it comes to sharing our thoughts.

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Previously, anyone who spoke to a fellow about a personal problem; he’d first consider it, then soon after come up with one all-encompassing solution. Happy with his counsel, the problem solver would then head off to polish the 12-gauge, content in the knowledge that he’d fixed an issue with his wisdom (whether his “solution” was the right one or not).

Nowadays, I’m finding that grown-up men are still suggesting ways out or forward – as they always have done – but there’s a difference. Today they are also listening a lot more, and empathising, and spending considerable personal mental effort as they attempt to help find the right resolution for the troubled one. And that’s real progress for a man!

Modern Man is no Longer Short on Ears and Long on Mouth!

Man listeningI had to close my creative agency business about four years ago and it’s been tough ever since. I started a website to help others in similar situations. The one big stand out is that the online community of today can be incredibly generous, even to possible competition.

All these things are fabulously positive, and give hope for a new future. But the rising numbers of middle-aged men committing suicide, on both sides of the Atlantic, show that we’re not yet talking enough; or more importantly, listening enough, but we are getting a lot better at it.

So, the next time someone you know seems like he has issues clouding his mind; whether he’s a close mate, a colleague from work, or the man you chat with in the corner shop, why not stop and lend him your ears for a while. In other words, let’s learn a lesson from the women ;)

50ish says: “Do you agree that today’s man is listening more and talking less?  If you have something to add to Graham’s post, please leave you comments below”.

By Graham Scott – 50ish Site Contributor
Owner and Webmaster of Fellow HQ

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Article Edited and Formatted by Andy Aitch (Webmaster of 50ish.org)
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Readers Comments

    JD says:

    Great post. You’ve articulated the great fear of all middle aged men. Obsolescence. I’m still in my early 40s, I’m not quite there yet, but I know that the Big O is drawing ever closer. I’ve seen it happen to older colleagues. Years of experience, long hours, sacrifice, broken marriages, deferred enjoyment – all in the name of career – and ultimately it is all for naught. I am terrified of turning 50. My wife just doesn’t get it. Websites like this can help, but they are a reminder that obsolescence, like death, comes for us all.


      Andy Aitch says:

      Thanks for your comments JD.

      Times are changing, along with attitudes towards age and ageing. It seems as though the workplace really is becoming a youthful environment for employees. But all is not lost!

      Only the other day, there was a report suggesting that the number or middle-aged men starting up their own business – at 50+ – is on the increase. Furthermore, they are having better success rates than younger entrepreneurs due mainly to a lifetime of work-related experience.

      There are also government run programs to help older guys start a business on a budget, but what’s available and where will depend on the individual countries.

      As a wise man once said; “When we change the way we look at things,the things we look at change.” ;)

      Andy Aitch (Webmaster)


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