This trend in media is unmistakable. Trashing an entire generation for every ill of society has become a standard feature of media commentary. Blogs, news sites, magazines, videos, podcasts etc. are brimming with anger bordering on hatred. To any thinking person, this level of discrimination is to be condemned.
Think I’m kidding? Here are some samples:
Of course some of the criticism is warranted, but it relates to the standard human failings. Greed, avarice, deception, corruption etc. are all part of the usual psychological landscape, as are their opposite traits. Every human being has degrees of these flaws. They are not limited to any particular group. So why are the baby boomers being singled out for such vitriol?
I suggest one of the reasons is the sheer number of us. Boomers comprise a full third of the population in North America and Europe. This simple fact has given us more influence than any other identifiable demographic. So whatever human errors are inherent in our actions, they will seem bigger and more significant because there is more of them.
Another possible reason is the comparison between us and our parents, known as the greatest generation. They were the ones who fought world wars and endured the sacrifices involved in this effort. They ushered in a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity into which we were born. So we were raised without the idea that everything could be taken away by war, which gave us the luxury of being “anti-war” and the righteous indignation that entails.
Other factors include things like child-centered education and the self-esteem movement. These approaches in the professional handling of children ensured that we boomers were treated as the center of everything, with the expression our needs and desires being thought to be important for our healthy development. Remember that we were raised with these as part of our sociological environment. “Do your own thing” became a mantra and it was pressed upon us from all sides.
All this sound like an excuse for our so-called selfishness. But I submit that any child subjected to the same influences, along with the natural human tendencies to self-protection and interest, would be inclined in the same direction – self-absorption. Multiply that by the number of children in the baby boom and you have the recipe for the Me Generation. As that number of people come to dominate institutions it is inevitable that the actions of those institutions reflect the self-interest of those in charge. Look at the scandals on display in industry and governments and think about the upbringing of those in charge. Hmm……..
The generations that followed the boomers are also being educated in similar ways, with the added features of having self-interested boomers for parents. Since that generation (who are also starting to have children) is a smaller population, they don’t have the obvious cultural impact. This highlights the main theme of this article. The main reason the baby boomers are singled out for criticism is the number of them and the effect of that number on the larger society.
We boomers are not different or unique as human beings. We were raised at a time of educational experiments coupled with the luxury of a prosperous time in history. It is hard to see how we could have turned out any differently than we have and how we would have been if faced with a world war or depression as our parents were. We will never know.
How should we deal with the nasty view so many are taking towards us? Since we are heading towards a more dependent time of life, we will probably be best served by being agreeable and apologetic. As seniors we will be more needy. So antagonizing those who now occupy the seats of power is not a good idea. It will feel very wrong to do this since it will violate the sense of self-focused independence with which we grew up. But “go along to get along” is probably the best policy to ensure those pensions payments keep coming and we are looked after. That is definitely in our self-interest! 🙂