I surely hope I am not alone getting increasingly fed up with the perpetuating myth of the so-called Boomers versus Millennials (the X-ers are conveniently glanced over). I wonder where this all originated from, but it definitely is not based on truth, honesty or scientific findings.
This morning, again, I found a column of a “boomer” who makes sure that they are not perceived as one of those lame people representing a group that is afraid of aging and that has wrecked our planet. According to the columnist, the catchphrase “OK boomer” is known by all, aside of those “five of you who may not know…” (shame on you!) that it is used by those [millennial?…Gen-Z?] not even wanting to attempt to educate someone who is ignorant based on decades of misinformation (Schneller, J., Globe and Mail, Saturday, November 30, 2019, “The ‘OK boomer’ revolution will not be televised”, R3).
Indeed, Gen X might have been overlooked for simplicity’s sake, but I do have to make this exception: Journalist Ada Calhoun wrote a book “Why we can’t sleep: Women’s new midlife crisis”. Despite my aversion to categorizing people in any way, I have to admit that her writings are relevant to me. I too feel that I was told that we, as women have it so much better than those of previous generations. I nearly believed it, maybe because I wanted to see the opportunities. I can state now that I clearly see that the wishful thinking was not based on reality. I too fell in the trap of having to do it all.
That does not mean that anyone who thinks a bit deeper about generations and commonalities must come to the conclusion that it is rather the shared experiences than the age group that result in people finding it easier to understand each other. I clearly remember my grandmother talking about the second world war and how it affected her entire generation. It was interesting that she said that differences disappeared when people needed to rely upon each other for survival and when they shared a fear for a common enemy.
Parenting is another example, parents young children may be in their late teens or many years older, up to their fifties and even beyond, an experience that is increasingly shared across age groups from Gen-Z to Boomers (assisted reproductive technology has made parenthood at older ages possible). Being a parent automatically brings people in contact with others with children attending the same school or class or sports.
But it is not just shared experiences, as if it was just shared experiences, it would have helped many surviving long evenings of social gathering characterized by uncomfortable small talk until enough alcohol consumptions have changed the scene and louder music is introduced. All of this in the company of a bunch of colleagues of similar ages, with whom we may have nothing in common rather than the place where one or one’s spouse receives a paycheck BIRTHDAYS…BAH! HUMBUG.
It is not just technology, as so many are trying to convince us, as we are all too familiar with a 70-something having embraced social media which together with a high level of self-importance and entitlement results in regular rants on Twitter. There are countless people in their twenties who do not engage in this level of social media abuse. The fact that we can, does not mean we must use whatever app available.
The smart phones certainly have contributed to equalizing generations who eagerly adapted to all that is new. It is not always an improvement, as many of us might have found our friends being distracted by whatever is so important on their phone while sharing a coffee with you NO, THERE IS NO APP FOR THAT!.
So, if it is not the year in which you were born and not just shared experiences, such as having children or working for the same company, nor technology, we might have to take into account the wider context of what makes us the person we are. Of course, we are influenced by our society, our upbringing (from neglectful to overindulgent parenting) and the social circles we partake in.
Aside from that, we have a choice and we have a voice (let us value that as many on this planet have not!), to look deep into ourselves, what person we are, who we want to become, what is meaningful and important to us and last but not least, what brings us joy. It is our shared values, our shared ideology that unite us and that enables us to feel connected. Caring for our planet is a shared value!
Hereby three of my heroes, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Viktor Frankl and Eve Ensler.
“Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her own life.”
Viktor E. Frankl
“My grandchildren love it. At my advanced age—I’m now an octogenarian—I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who want to take my picture.”
The Notorious RBG on being an internet sensation