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.