Plus ça change...
My son is in his mid-forties and finds it amusing how upset I get when young people take down seniors like me with the phrase: “OK, Boomer.” I wish there was a way to add sound to paper because it’s the intonation that drives me up the wall. Try to imagine the sound of a teenager responding to some parental idea with “Yeah… whatever.”
“OK Boomer” spits on an older generation who, young people think, has mortgaged the future and drives an Audi. These Boomers are aging (but not “aged”), have coiffed white hair, usually play tennis and have an investment portfolio (any size will do – the main thing is that it’s big enough to be called “a portfolio”).
Being far from wealthy, having no portfolio of any kind and driving a Honda Fit, I’m fascinated that the phrase pushes such strong buttons in me. It brings out emotions I am not proud of: I want to slap the person who utters the phrase. I want to call them little twerps who expect praise just for showing up. I want to ask if, as young idealists, they think their fights for gender diversity, Me Too and climate change are any different or more important than trying to stop the war in Vietnam, Women’s Liberation and fighting to legalize abortion?
With questions like this knocking around in my head and heart, you can see why I don’t say anything out loud. But a keen observer will notice slight twitches in my face and some grinding of teeth.
I admit that many in our generation went on to join the powerful/wealthy contingent and left the big societal fights to the younger generation. Yes, many Boomers have mortgaged our future and have more money than any one person needs or should have. Yes, many Boomers have become self-centred as retirement gives them more time to focus on what they WANT to do, rather than, with time on their hands, look at what needs to be done. And, yes, Donald Trump is a Boomer. On the other hand, the Kardashians are millennials. Neither show the best of their generation.
Caution: Some of the same people thumbing their noses at Boomers are about to be tested.
Currently, Boomers control over 50% of Canada’s disposable income. In the next few decades, there will be an enormous transfer of wealth. As Boomers die off, young people will inherit these “fortunes” they accuse us of hoarding. So the question is: Will they invest in poor communities, solar power and help build more affordable housing? Or will they buy Audis, take up golf and become Boomers redux?
Inter-generational spats are not new, of course, and I sometimes cringe when I remember a rallying cry during my youth: “Never trust anyone over 30.” Like me, my parents never defended themselves, and it’s way too late to ask them if they were grinding their teeth every time I murmured the phrase.
Plus ça change…
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This phrase has definitely been uttered in my home! Thanks Janet for making us smile and to you for being here for another Sunday.
And let me use this space to wish my husband a Happy 33rd Anniversary. He is the strongest and most rational person I know, challenging me to be my best, focus on what is important, and enjoy the scenery. He knows it’s a good idea to occasionally bring me coffee in the morning and empty the dishwasher. My relationship with my nice guy remains the most important in my life; as life goes on, I am full of admiration.
Oh, the wisdom they miss out on by painting all Boomers with the same brush.
For many years, I have found this attitude hard to bend my brain around. This isn't because I don't feel any responsibility for the ills of the world. I could do more. I could do better, but I definitely don't drive an Audi. The people I came of age with were all part of the counterculture and continue to feel marginalized by the corporate world. I think younger people who sneer at us are responding to the commodification (by those very corporations) of the way we were, not the felt reality of it. They've been sold a bill of goods. Also....Happy Anniversary!