Ok, Boomer and Other Social Wedges
The year I turned thirty I facetiously announced that now I could no longer trust myself. My reference was to Jack Weinberg is the person who coined the saying “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” This statement has been used in various forms to convey a myriad of sentiments, many of which do not relate to the original usage as published in December 1964.
Weinberg was a mere pup of 24 at the time of his first utterance. At the age of 79 he missed being part of the Baby Boom generation. While a member of the Silent Generation, his beliefs more closely align with that of the Boomer cohort.
Every cohort of population seeks to distance themselves from the parent generation and exhort the benefits of their own. The Greatest Generation boasts vanquishing Nazis, Japanese, Fascists and Communism. They gave rise to the Baby Boom Generation through economic growth and exuberance made possible by the industrial momentum of the wars years of WWII. Scientific advances lowered mortality rates. People had jobs and loads of money to spend. While not every segment of society had equal opportunities, the vast majority of Americans saw their standards of living improve. Consumption became the watchword for the entire generation. After all they fought and died for it. They “deserved” to be frivolous and happy.
Millennials are more the creation of Gen X parents than Baby Boom parents, although there is a bit of cross-over. The earliest Gen Z cohort is just now reaching adulthood while the latest are only now starting Kindergarten.
In the 1960s the dominant concern was the Generation Gap. Each generational cohort develops attitudes, beliefs and behaviors typically are at odds with their parents. Advertising and other marketing influences shape what the children see as important. Every new automotive model year eschews the styles of the past. Fashion designers make annual decisions for which colors are “Today”, how high the hem line will be, and how much skin will be shown. In this 21st century, on a nearly annual basis your pocket phone model changes and the old one relegated to the status of “not cool.” These annual updates to style and appearance serve to both prompt sales and to subdivide everyone into smaller and smaller factions.
When the motive is economics measured in sales volume and market penetration, it is innocuous. There is a more sinister motive at play.
Political allegiances are also being subdivided. The more factions there are, the smaller each one is. Today, there are interests at work molding political attitudes using the self-same tactics. Rarely can such an undertaking invent the next “big thing” but they are highly adept at watching global events and latching on to them. Once anything gets its start, it can be fostered and formed into the vector of change desired by the agenda.
“Ok, Boomer” spoken at a climate speech by New Zealand MP Chlöe Swarbrick, set the pejorative on fire. Other usages predate her utterance, but hers made it tip. Quick to pickup on a useful sentiment, political interests have been employing it to separate the youth from the older generation. They are working to make a potentially massive Millennial and Gen X electorate vote differently than people who are typically their grandparents. Instead of trying to unite the generations to solve political, economic and environmental crises, there are wedges being driven in so as to blame each other for the problems.
In the movie Trixie, the titular characters says, “When things go terribly wrong there is only one person to blame and that is each other.”
By allowing ourselves to blame others we defeat our own ability to reach a solution. Much of the financial stress on the economy is not that Boomers are selfish, entitled and close minded, it is that there are so many of them. Millennials and Gen X persons are not uncaring, liaise-faire or unprepared to assume control of the world, it is that no foreseeable solution is at hand to work on. Out of frustration each faction blames the other. The struggle is not a tug-o-war pulling against each other, but rather if both sides pull in the same direction we can get this errant ship to dock.