On Boomer Hate

It’s trendy to hate Boomers. Literally, everyone is doing it. I did as well.

But a funny thing happened on the way to critical thinking: I’ve changed my opinion.

The more I thought about generational struggles, the more I realized that generational warfare hurts us all:

What I’m getting at is that I think generational warfare is stupid and counterproductive. And I’m not just talking about the young. Us older folks do it too and we should to stop it.

The more I think about it, the more obvious it becomes that the righteous Gen X indignation against Boomers is pretty hypocritical, especially since many of us express the same sentiments towards Millennials.

Does repeating the same mistakes you decry really make anything better?

So back to Boomers. I had these thoughts, and then I read Generations, by William Strauss and Neil Howe. One of the most important thing I gleaned from this book is that while generations have some commonalities, they are hardly monolithic. Even Boomers.

There are urban Boomers, heartland Boomers, religious Boomers, radical Boomers, apolitical Boomers, religious Boomers, and so on. To claim they’re ALL like this or they ALL did that is as silly as Boomers claiming Xers are ALL slackers.

And we’re all different at different ages than the generations before or after us.

One of the most important things this book got me to do is think about generational diagonals. This is the idea that every generation ages not in a straight line, but a diagonal one. Each generational type is different than the others at each phase of life, though similar to similar to its archetype in the past. For example, a Boomer does not think, act, and feel at, say, age 55 as Civics did when they were 55, or as Millennials will when they are 55. In other words, like much conventional wisdom, the “You’ll think, say, and do X when you’re older, just like the rest of us” is a fallacy.

What people, I think, are angry about are Boomer (and Silent!) politicians of a certain age.

These “Boomer policies” that have “ruined” everything weren’t agreed upon by some mass Boomer council.

Boomers also, lest we forget, we’re astronauts, inventors, war heroes, writers, policemen, doctors, scientists, parents, priests, artists, and musicians.

The hatred is counterproductive. And it’s hypocritical for me to engage in it further. I am 100% against collective guilt and collective punishment and collective salvation.

Everything and everyone stands on their own merits. Pattern recognition and generalizations can help form average characteristics of a group, but the bigger the group, the less likely the absolute generalization is true.

Even for an age group like Boomers.

12 comments

  1. I mostly just fall into this when I find myself surrounded by anti-Millennialism. I mean, to be fair our generation does largely suck, but as you say, people are people and thus individuals differ. Now excuse me while I go eat some avocado toast.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This brings up so many things that people often forget. “Generation” trends are just that – general, generic, generated by abundance but not by unanimity. They are generalizations that often won’t hold true. No generation is monolithic. But also, generational warfare hurts all. I have mentors who are Boomers and Xers, as well as Millennials I admire and Gen Z folk I myself mentor and have great working relationships with. Reaching across generational boundaries – outside of those people inside your family – helps give perspective on the unique positives each generation brings to the table – and sheds light on what we could all accomplish working together!
    Read an awesome article from a British writer who argued Gen X would be the mediators in the war between Boomers and Millennials, and I thought that’s often exactly what we need. More peacemakers in all three generations.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Peacemakers are always welcome. I always get miffed when older generations would forget they, too, were young once. It bugged me when I was young, and it bugs me now that I’m older.

      Being young is no picnic. It’s even worse when older generations dump on you all the time. Who wants that?

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Reblogged this on Rogue Millennials and commented:
    Some great thoughts on generations in general. “The more I thought about generational struggles, the more I realized that generational warfare hurts us all.” From “no generation is monolithic” to “the bigger the group, the less likely the absolute generalization is true,” this article from The Daytime Renegade brings a lot of insight to the discussion on how generations interact, whether to their detriment or to the common good. Check it out!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged over at Rogues. A great contribution to the discussion of intergenerational cooperation. Millennials need Boomer mentors, and Boomers need fresh insights from Millennials on age-old problems no one has gotten around to solving yet!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am a millennial and am a little biased, but I highly agree with this piece! We shouldn’t be generalizing by generations.

    I think that the discussion needs to expand even further though, to ending generational warfare everywhere. Unfortunately, I hear a ton of generational warfare from all generations and against all generations. I’ve even heard fellow millennials talk down the boomers, for example (while forgetting that highly respected people like Al Gore and Bruce Springsteen are also boomers)

    It was a great read though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Brendan.
      I’m with you. I’m not millennial, at least not by Strauss and Howe’s reckoning, but I also get sick of the constant millennial bashing.

      1) What does it accomplish?
      2) Generations aren’t monolithic.
      3) Younger generations are shaped by older generations, so if you have such problems with the young, what does that day about your generation?

      Liked by 1 person

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