Bend, Oregon, is known for great skiing and hiking, and it also is known as the place with the last Blockbuster Video. Many remember Blockbuster, either as a parent or child. As a parent, we took our kids to the store to run around and find the perfect video to bring home and watch during a Friday night or weekend. We met neighbors, and we found a sense of community within the recommendations, the people, and a place. Sure, there were frustrations when a video was gone, or a late charge appeared. Through it, there still was something special about the experience.

community generational changesI know. My trip down memory lane may sound like I am making more of a retail experience than it was, and maybe I am. Either way, it was odd to walk down the aisles of videos in Bend, Oregon, and remember a different time and what brought people together. Even as we walked through and looked at all the options, it also was not lost on me that I would have no equipment to play a video today. We have streamed everything for many (many) years now!

Time Changes Things

Time plays tricks on us. Through time, technology advances, and models appear and disappear. Some adapt while others remain stuck. The ones stuck disappear or become grumpy at most changes. The ones that adapt may find better ways to do things but realize what we lose along the way. For the adapters, our challenge is how to replace the important elements lost when substantial changes become the norm. While it is not about living in the past, it is about how to keep a sense of community and family experience when changes eliminate a piece of both.

Changes Can Make Us Better

Goodish people should never become stuck in the past. We need to continue to learn and grow. We need to find ways to shorten the time it takes to shop, do, and pursue projects. While we shorten time, we spend more time at work or in virtual worlds of disconnection. We are not always using our newfound time in ways to make us better.

Finding the changes that makes us better is a generational challenge of the young and old. We need to ditch the changes that raise divisiveness and anxiety. Discerning which changes to embrace or how to embrace a change is the difference-maker. While change is the constant, we must ensure betterment within the changes. This is our personal leadership responsibility.

Changes Require Ethical Character, Always

Some changes are not directly technology related. Technology plays a role in how messages are delivered and received, but the content of the messages requires good citizenship and ethical behavior. Bullying has been around since playgrounds existed, but it was more limited in scope. Although still harmful, it did not spread like it does through the social media channels of today. Plus, many of the social media channels do not govern interactions and struggle to eliminate harmful content. Today, we seem character challenged, especially when the U.S. president is the worst offender of defending bad people and disparaging good ones.

We cannot accept bad behavior or unacceptable ethical behavior, no matter the societal changes. Just like the elite were caught in cutting corners and ethical standards to gain access to colleges for their kids, we must hold any citizen accountable to the ethical standards of conduct required of a good society. With all the changes happening, our character and moral courage requires strength through the times.

Changes Require Real Life Community

Virtual worlds have value in how we learn and interact. Even in virtual reality, we cannot lose the reality of touch, conversation, and personal relationships. We need to see each other in our wholeness. It does not matter what makes us up; only the content of our character matters. It sounds simple yet too many avoid two points. The first is that our character is paramount, and the second is that differences makes us stronger. Aspen trees demonstrate the connectedness of community, along with a sense of embracing and supporting what is different. We need to embrace the aspen way of community.

A Blockbuster Community Requires Goodness

Business leaders failed the Blockbuster Video company and community. They got lost in the societal changes and never recovered, except for one last store in Bend, Oregon. As business and societal leaders, we cannot get lost within the changes. We need to keep our center, and our center contains moral courage, a sense of goodness, and a strong community character. Each generation is responsible to each generation.

And add in a little Blockbuster sense of wonderment, the pursuit of the perfect escape through movies, and a community gathering place and we can navigate any change by supporting others and engaging wholesomely with each other.

Photo by Jon Mertz, 2019.
What makes a blockbuster community? We can find some answers in the generational changes and within the last Blockbuster store.