I don’t think all the data points and anecdotes you corral here fit neatly into the generational cohorts the way you portray them to do. I think it’s easy to create any portrait of ‘Millennials’ or ‘Boomers’ or whatever one wants by selecting the statistics that fit one’s view. I am in the Gen X generation and remember when I was in college that my peers were blaming the ‘older generation’ for ruining the environment. And that was over 25 years ago. Even then it didn’t make sense to blame an entire generation when only a small percentage of any of us end up with real power to affect anything on a planetary level. Even though I’ve voted Democratic/Green in every election I cannot by myself stop giant corporations from continuing to pollute the environment. I can do my share of protesting and letter writing and donating. But my generation as a cohort is not a single entity deciding that we aren’t going to bother saving the planet. Millions of us have been angry about it and taking action on it for decades. Others in my generation are reaping the financial rewards of going on polluting. Sadly, that describes every other generation on the planet right now. Well, okay, babies and small children get a pass. But everyone else in a Western country who consumes and needs 1,000 different choices of what to consume (clothes, tech, gadgets, events that require long distance travel) and live in a single family home and eat out and drive a car (or take an Uber) and buy new is choosing to continue the pattern.

And neither are the Boomers a cartoonish monolith who started out as overly regulated children in the 50s, flower children dropping out and changing the world in the 60s, becoming more self-centered in the 1970s, and then turning into the cheesy “goodvibes” capitalist in the 80s and 90s who ends up owning everything and betraying all of his/her principles. Each of these phases is a part of our Mythology of Boomers. Some kids grew up poor in the 1950s and stayed that way, got blue collar jobs eventually, stayed close to home, hated the hippies, never owned a company. Only a small, visible minority did each of the things that we consider iconic about each generational cohort.

Lots of Gen X had huge student loan debt, graduated into a bad economy, worried about the environment, became disillusioned and cynical about the world, have a dark, sarcastic sense of humor about the world, eventually managed to start a small business instead of keep working for The Man, are technologically adept, have aging parents for whom we are “tech support,” etc. You are not unique in doing these things, no matter what your statistics tell you.

I’m not sure what all these trends can be boiled down to in real terms, but they can’t be used to generalize what ‘A Boomer’ is any more than avocado toast can represent ‘A Millennial.’ Believe that you have some things in common with the rest of us, and that other people have been there before you. Boomers are not all rich second-home owning tightwads who are snorting their children’s inheritance up their noses. Many are in poverty and were born at a time when financial planning was not nearly as sophisticated as it is now, and knowledge restricted to a very small percentage of families. These people are on their own and will end up needing the rest of us to care for them.

Linguist, philosopher, lover of history, wordhound, 21 year New Yorker, searching for meaning in the universe

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store