Letter: It really is 'OK, Boomers'
I've carried the moniker of “baby boomer” with a great deal of pride all of my life. After all, it was us—the "boomers"—who transformed the culture of the 20 th century. Our parents and grandparents were, for the most part, obedient, quiet and respectful in the way the world was organized. Ask no questions, raise no challenges and respect authority at all costs. We boomers were designed to be annoyed and to challenge all norms. We were a generation that refused to accept the status quo.
Unbridled consumerism. Why? War in places we didn't belong. Why? Crew-cut haircuts and skirts to our knees. Why? We have to thank Bob Dylan and The Beatles for leading the charge in this cultural revolution. They mirrored and dictated our future. If it weren't for boomers, who knows what kind of world this would be?
Of course, we ultimately strayed off course. We became self-involved and realized that no one can really change the world. We lost the dream, graduated college, married, had kids, entered the real world of business, were lured by the siren's call for riches and impossible lifestyles. We skimmed over racial prejudice. We became the “Me Generation.” We spoiled our kids rotten and became more materialistic than the baseline our parents set. These hypocritical choices ultimately led to the mindset of the next generation, the millennials.
If it weren't for a story I heard on NPR last week, I wouldn't have known about that nasty, amusing and well-placed rejoinder by the not-so-wallflower voice of the millennial: “OK, Boomer.” Now I get it. It's the natural response to millennial kids who are frustrated with the embedded hubris and sacrifices we boomers made so that the following generations would be forever in our graces.
When a boomer struggles with iPhone technology, say trying to message a photo to Facebook and failing miserably, the boomer asks for their kid or their grandkid's help. Then we get the subtle slap in the face: “OK, Boomer, I've got it.” Or when we complain about the work ethic of those damn millennials who don't show up for work on time, if ever. We hear it from a millennial who might be part of the team, listening in: “Really? OK, Boomer.” Or when we boast: Hey, we had to work our asses off to make the team. These days kids get trophies just for showing up. The kid rolls his eyes, sighs and says, “OK, Boomer.”
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In other words, “OK, grandpa.” And it is OK, grandpa. Heck, how many times have we've had to listen to: “We walked uphill for two miles, both ways to get to school...”
The millennials have challenges we couldn't dream of and wouldn't possibly be able to navigate. Social media pressures, unreasonable academic expectations, insidious politicians, student loan debt that would sink Noah's Ark, global warming, endless unwinnable wars. You thought we had pressure? For my money, inheriting the world we've become and trying to make it better is in the hands of the new generation. Good luck, kiddos.
Bottom line? It is OK, Boomer. We had our time. We cut a wide cultural swath during our run, but it's over. The torch has been passed. Swallow hard. The kids are gonna be alright. And so is our future.