From the beginning of time, the divide in thinking and ideals between the generations has been an issue. This is only natural…every day something new comes along that affects how we learn, live, and love.
My family is represented by four generations. I am fortunate to still have a living parent…my mother. In my family story, I am the Baby Boomer. Like many of you, I heard the stories of poverty and strife that both my parents endured in their childhood…the tales, (often embellished!) of long walks to school with little or no warm coats and shoes, but in fairness, my parents grew up during the 1930s depression when life was difficult. Families were large and there was never enough food to go around. Everyone was expected to work and contribute which often meant that education was sacrificed. Childhood was fleeting. During WW11 it was the mostly young men who went off to Europe to serve their country. This left a void in the workforce that was largely filled by young women…again education was put on hold. This, too, was a period of lean times.
After the war, times changed. It was a time to rebuild and jobs were plenty. More and more, young people left the family farm in the country and moved to the city. House prices and interest rates were low. Owning your own home was accessible…it was the heyday of suburbia. In most 1950s households the women stayed home to raise the children. It was during this time that the baby boomers were born (1946-1964).
My childhood was different than that of my parents. I had a cozy home with plenty of food on the table and for the most part was unaware of any hardships my parents may have been going through. We were not pampered though…and I knew from an early age if I wanted something special I had to figure out a way to get it on my own…and I did. I’m the oldest of my siblings and have always been independent. My first job was babysitting and when I turned 16 years old I got a job in a department store. I was also a part of the 1960s culture believing that women were equal to men in every way and that we were entitled to make our own choices.
My own children had a much different childhood than me or my parents. We wanted our children to experience as much as possible which in turn (in our minds, anyway) would enhance their opportunities and future quality of life. When my children had their own families, they too have done everything possible to ensure that their children have all the advantages in life. This is a natural progression and I for one wouldn’t have it any other way. My theory is that nature has had a hand in this. As life expectancy gets longer, the period of childhood and young adulthood should get longer too.
Getting back on track to “OK Boomer”… What may have started out as quip in jest has shone a light on how differently Millenials (born between 1980-1996) and Gen Z’s (Zoomers born between 1996-2015) think in comparison to Boomers. The younger generations believe Baby Boomers just don’t get it! The following issues are at the heart of these divides:
- political climate
- resistance to technology
- deniers of climate change
- environmental concerns
- gun control
Whereas Zoomers may think some older people are narrow-minded, judgmental and condescending, Boomers think Gen Z’s have a Peter Pan syndrome of never wanting to grow up referring to them as the snowflake generation…lazy and entitled.
It seems nothing stays relevant for too long and by the time you read this blog post, the phrase, “OK Boomer” may already be passe. But…if we (Boomers) are offended by the term “OK Boomer”, we should ask yourselves why. Are we guilty of accusations made by young people? The “OK Boomer” term isn’t really about how old you are, it’s about how open you are to the struggles young people face today. If Boomers are honest, we have to admit that young people today do not have the same opportunities we had and that the world they are growing up in does not resemble our youth in any way.
It’s difficult to keep up in a world that can turn on a dime. The news cycle changes every few hours and by the time you get used to your new cell phone, it’s obsolete. I believe young people are better equipped to switch gears quickly than some of us who are resistant to a new way. Science, technology, and the creative arts must always move forward…not backward.
I have 3 very special Zoomers in my life, my grandsons. I’m sure there is some (a lot) eye-rolling when I ask for their help with any cellphone or computer problems I have but I also know that they would do anything for me as they know I would do anything for them! Yes, they may be naive and idealistic but weren’t we at that age? Both sides have a lot to offer and learn from each other. If we could put aside our labels and enjoy the opinions of every generation perhaps harmony would ensue.