THE BLOG

Five Generations

07/24/2012 02:48 pm ET | Updated Sep 23, 2012

Five generations.

Doesn't seem a lot, does it -- in the digital age?

Five generations of software can be weathered by watching the "update your app" icon on your iPad -- turn the device on and off a few times a week, and who knows how many generations of whatever you have passed on.

Yet in human, familial terms, generations have lengthened as our lives and society have changed. So today, 25 years is a good round number to use when calculating generational length.

Therefore, a span of five generations encompasses some 125 years -- and that does seem like a lot, no?

Five generations has been on my mind all week as my daughter gave birth to our latest grandchild -- a girl, the first -- while in the room next to her, unplanned but serendipitous, another girl was born, and the two represented an unbroken chain of five generations between our respective families and its many branches.

Imagine the joy you have in the birth -- now double it as you celebrate another birth and then exponentially add five generations of celebration, sorrow, laughter, tears and love; even as I write this I find it hard to articulate... yet I can't stop smiling and feeling great.

These two little baby girls are connected back to their great-great grandparents, and it's an all-inclusive melting pot of connections, including grandparents, aunts and uncles (great and non), cousins of all types, extended families of every description, and it keeps on growing.

If this was an App -- the "Link the Generations App" -- we would be talking about how to monetize the links, what's the value of one in, two in? Three? A Great-Great... JACKPOT!

How many connections does each generation have? What can we do with them? What is that value?

How do we take it public? After all, talk about social - this is the height, the touchstone - unbroken lines of deeply connected people expanding and extending in all directions - this is the real thing, a true social network linked by way more than bits and bytes.

Imagine -- pre-Facebook, pre-digital -- before we even knew we needed social networks to have friends and generate income for Brands, these two newborns were hurtling toward their shared destiny, and two families -- and all of their numerous and diverse branches -- are celebrating.

At the end of the day, it's all about understanding what's really important and what's not, what's real and what's not, what counts and what really doesn't.

Facebook and whatever other social means you have of connecting are in reality no more important or powerful than your imbuing in them real feelings, real caring, real connectivity. People and relationships are not disposable -- not even in today's world.

Listen:

"In times of change and danger when there is a quicksand of fear under men's reasoning, a sense of continuity with generations gone before can stretch like a lifeline across the scary present...."
-- John Dos Passos

The way I ask the question today is -- of all of your hundreds of network friends -- how many will pick you up at the airport late at night in the pouring rain?

Dos Passos had it right -- at least for me -- I'm grabbing on to that lifeline and never letting go.

What do you think?