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I’m beginning to have a problem with the Baby Boomers. Beginning might be a soft term; I have had a problem with the Baby Boomers for a while. What I’m beginning to understand is what my problem is exactly. As part of a young generation swimming in the wake of a lot of messed-up decades, which I’m not blaming them for because I know how little control we have over the powers that be, one might think we’d be cut some slack. One might think those before us that partied and broke the rules might understand our fumbling attempt at finding a place in the world. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. It isn’t enough we all hate ourselves, but why do Baby Boomers have to hate us too?
I have a handful of Baby Boomer friends, which is atypical for a 27-year-old, but I assume I’m pretty atypical. It’ll make this all a whole lot easier. I know a handful of Baby Boomers who spit their words when they talk about my generation, Millennials. How vapid we are, how all we care about is reality stars (as if they don’t watch TV at all), how distracted we are from what’s happening. We don’t know what we’re doing, we’re all just here to get drunk and dress up like Santa Claus, we all just care about the latest phone or band or whatever the kids are doing these days. For god’s sake, instead of constantly complaining about us like the NY Times editorial section is your personal coffee clutch session, why not just pull us off to the side at a cocktail party and tell us you have one word for us. Are you listening? Just one word: plastics.
There’s a whole older generation of humans that love to hate on us. They think we’re spoiled and tender. They talk about how much tougher they are than us. For starters, no generation ever has it easier than any other. The challenges are different, the adversaries have changed so that one might not necessarily recognize the struggles of a younger group but I can assure everyone, they are there. That’s for starters. Second point, isn’t that what they wanted? Didn’t our ancestors want their kids to be happier and healthier? Why do so many older generations see softness where there is evolution?
“For starters, no generation ever has it easier than any other.”
The older generation raises the younger one. They teach the younger one, they inform the wee children of all the light and dark in the world. The older generation also makes decisions for the younger one up to a certain point, like putting children on medication or diagnosing them with disorders they might not have. It’s hysterical, in a very sad way, that we get ridiculed by much of the older generation as being the “ADD Generation.” As if these were choices we made. As if we asked for helicopter parenting and overbearing guidance counselors. These systems were not put in place by us; they were put there for us and now we’re being mocked because we’re trying to undo the wake of all those messed up decades while fighting anxiety so deeply rooted, its lineage looks like a book from Dune. We are doing our best with the hand we were dealt. We are looking for solutions, which is not something all the generations before us did.
Those of you who were or are hippies or fought for civil rights, how dare you hate us. How dare you. You looked into the old, worn eyes of a generation ahead of you and you told them that you were not going to be the self-fulfilling prophecies they were. You told them you could find a world and a life of happiness and you could question those who came before you and spoke so learnedly of the world. You broke out of unbelievable constraints, you fought back a version of America that left for very little deviation and ran naked and wild through the streets. You were magnificent. You were rebellion and passion.
“Those of you who were or are hippies or fought for civil rights, how dare you hate us. How dare you.”
You saw the endless beautiful futility of life and selected contentment and choice since there was no point anyway. This younger generation? We were inspired by you. We grew up listening to your stories and gathering your data and finding a way to have your vision be sustainable. You call us spoiled for wanting to live for art and enjoyment, not mindless partying as many think, but conversation, pleasantries. You think we came from too much privilege yet at one time, you wanted to provide for us. You put doubts of higher powers into our heads. You told us to question people who said they understood the world. What you hate is that at one point, the people we questioned were you. Not all of you are right. Not all of us are bad. Generalizations exist because we have to make sense of everything and categories help, but we’re being spurned because all of a sudden, the archaic upbringing you had and rebelled against was the right way to live. Apparently the problems you sought to abolish now made you the person you are and made you strong. The absence of such makes us weak. It does not compute.
I understand some of the anger. We needed you to precede us. We needed the power, the breakout. The initial revolt is bloody and violent, like Les Mis, and you changed the world in a way not seen since the Renaissance. If the older generations would stop bashing us for one second and let us show you what we’re working towards, maybe we all wouldn’t be so angry with each other. Maybe I wouldn’t be thrusting my fists in the air and shouting, “god damn Baby Boomers,” while those collective heads shook sadly back at me, at the ADD generation.
We inherited a crumbling empire. We sit in the hollowed out castle of a short-lived kingdom and we cannot be blamed for any of it. Still, we are trying. We are doing fantastic and powerful things just past the glossed surface that so many never look below. It’s a common human trait to focus on the negative but I will no longer let my generation be regarded as one that is lazy, insipid, and narcissistic. To be honest, we want to pick up where others left off and sometimes I think they detest us for the foresight and the hindsight they have given us. The older generation teaches the younger one. Allow us to demonstrate and we truly might surprise you.