Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Boomer Generation

I'm watching PBS "The Boomer Century." Lewis Black is ranting about how we didn't reach our potential...or even make the changes we were so sure we would when we were the same age as the Millennials. For instance, weren't you certain that when we were finally in charge; marijuana would be legal, there would be solar-powered everything, we'd be making love not war? Guess again!

I really took issue with Alex Steed of and his blog about the Millennials. I was offended by the assumption that high-tech tools are the province of the young. I still think it's wrong, but I guess I can understand that desire to find a shared identity. To read Alex's blog go to

It's hard not to be offended by the idea that after a certain age, a person can no longer be considered hip. On the other hand, watching PBS' "The Boomer Century" makes me cringe...all these people who look well into "middlescence" chasing viagra, botox, and growth hormone injections to stay young, seem to have missed the point of youth. To me, it seems as though they are trying to look the same age as the Millennials, but are preoccupied with anything but BEING young. There's something very grim about it all. Where's the joy and sense of discovery we associate with youth? Why are the "oldies" our music now? Sure, I like the old songs, but I love Duffy and The Killers too. Isn't youth about looking forward and having big dreams...defining the latest big thing?

Then again, when all the advertising and programming we watch leaves us feeling that if we don't buy botox, we're on our way to using depends, I can see how we find ourselves at sea...eyes on the horizon...looking back to where we were with longing...and forward with dread.

I guess one answer would be to stop buying all that crap...stop watching so much tv...go back to school...take up a cause...change the world!

Next time, I'm going to talk about Einstein, his wife, and the possibility that one of our most widely held beliefs about intellectual/cognitive prime time could be based on a myth.


  1. hey thanks for checking out my blog Pat! your blog is cool too!

  2. Again, I can't seem to figure this out:

    "I really took issue with Alex Steed of and his blog about the Millennials."



    "I was offended by the assumption that high-tech tools are the province of the young.

    That is not necessarily my assumption - This is more a general generational assessment.

    You go on:

    "I still think it's wrong, but I guess I can understand that desire to find a shared identity."

    What's wrong?

    We're a generation raised in an age of communication technologies. Millennials Changing America is a project that is taking a look at what that means for activism. It's a study, the same way that "Capote" is a cinematic illustration of Truman Capote's life during his time writing In Cold Blood, and not an assertion that Truman Capote was the only writer in history to write a true-crime novel. One doesn't take offense saying, "But hey, there are authors who wrote about crime/real-tragedy other than Truman Capote! Why doesn't this movie have a broader range?"

    As I clarified in the post you linked, I think that "Millennial" can be considered a transferable, generation essence, and it need not be applied rigidly to a particular time period. Over and over, however, you have hinted at some sort of ageism on my part. I haven't suggested that only youth understand how to communicate using innovative methods, or that Boomers are totally out of touch, or useless, or are less functional than my generation. I am only saying: "Hey - here are some characteristics about my generation, and here are some stories about them." Why you keep extracting some hint of ageism out of this action, I can't seem to understand.

  3. Alex, thanks for taking the time to comment.
    I just feel that any kind of stereotyping can lead to unanticipated inequities and hurt. You actually have more in common with the "Y-Generation" marketeers than you think. Every time we are complicit in promoting stereotypes, we give weight to a kind of lie. You don't object to the existence of a stereotype the marketeers present of just think it portrays you badly!
    I object to the stereotypes in the first place.
    I suppose, given the whole notion of "social marketing" or "social entreprenuership," the premise is that you can just copy the Madison Avenue "markets" and sell causes to them. Maybe so.
    I don't happen to believe that the "consumers" who will make a difference in our society can be divided into market segments along lines as artificial as those drawn by Madison Avenue. Just IMHO.
    Finally, you say that you just can't see how your blog smacked of ageism? All I can say in reply is that having endured treatment at the hands of employers that would get them sued today, I heard plenty of managers sound just as bewildered as you over issues of sexism. It's a different "ism," but the process is the same.
    Again, thanks for taking time to comment.
    I'm pretty much "done" with

  4. The Boomer Generation has been the most narcissitic selfish and consumptive generation in the history of civlization. A bunch of spoiled babies that never grew up (with a bunch of screwed up kids. They can't raise kids either. If you don't grow up yourself, you can't raise your own kids).

    No generation has consumed so many resources and had so much crap. Look what the Boomers produced? George Bush. The ultimate Boomer.
    Out for Number One along with his corporate Boomer buddies. The Boomer Mafia. Climate change.
    The earth is dying. Our water is barely drinkable...its all gone to sht in the Boomer era and the irony is they were supposed to be all about nature, love, peace. Barf.

    You are offended? Give me a break. Trying being the next generation who has to clean up all your messes. Now THATS offensive.

  5. Well, Anonymous, thanks for your comments...even if you chose not to reveal your identity.
    I really don't see how dwelling on generational stereotypes helps anyone or anything though? I don't disagree with anything you've said about consumption, "W," or the damage to the planet...except that we are ALL equally guilty and responsible for reversing the damage.
    When I was campaigning for Obama I was frequently astounded by young people who were supporting McCain. What's that about?
    I just don't think you can try to classify (or condemn) people on something as arbitrary as age (or race or gender or...).
    What's the Boomer Mafia? I never heard of it.

  6. PS
    I have to say that I am VERY proud of my daughter who has great integrity, talent, and compassion. Of course, I can't take credit for her accomplishments, but at least I didn't mess her up too much. Weren't you raised by boomers too?
    And, yes, I have resisted "growing up." When my daughter was about 10 years old, I realized that I enjoyed the things we did together better than any "grown-up" activities. Ever since, I've tried to keep that sense of possibility and simple joy alive in my life.
    I wish you peace and a Happy New Year.