An Unkind But Necessary Critique Of The Baby Boomer Generation
Baby boomers are handing over $28 trillion in national debt to millennials, a debt that was virtually at zero when they started to come to power. They have also saddled them with student loan debts most boomers never had to worry about. They shipped industrial jobs overseas and ended the idea of job security forever in order to boost their 401Ks so that they might retire in luxury. They trashed the environment and had more kids than they should have when overpopulation was already becoming a problem. They are overwhelmingly responsible for the plastic pollution that exists, since their parents got their milk and soda from returnable glass bottles and took their groceries home in paper bags. They over-consumed absolutely everything, demanding larger and larger and more and more vehicles, TVs, wardrobes, houses. Most of them divorced rather than committing to the family they created, so that two parents ended up having two houses instead of one. To compensate for abandoning their roles as parents, they sought to become “friends” with their children. Because acting like a friend meant they never had to grow up and act like adults.
Because they pursued their selfish interests rather than being full-time parents, they tried to make it up by buying their kids “all the things they never had”, mainly stuff they never needed and wasn’t good for them. Mountains of cheap plastic toys sold in fancy packaging and marketed by television campaigns that sought to indoctrinate kids into a consumer culture. Yeah, baby boomers brought marketing to a whole new and disgusting level.
Baby boomers accepted consumerism as a way of life because it was an acceptable alternative to doing the hard work required to actually leave the world a better place than the one they had been given. Unfortunately, the world they gave to their kids did not have enough left over to provide them with the easy and frivolous lifestyle boomers experienced. The party was over by the time they graduated from high school with little prospect for a secure position. They couldn’t afford a house but they had to pay for a storage shed for all the guilt gifts their parents had given them over the years.
But baby boomers have so much more yet to give to the generation they are passing the baton to. They are busily giving them their judgment and contempt, boomersplaining to them how soft they’ve had it and what losers they are for not starting their own businesses or complaining about the economy. How someone can ever sit in judgment of a generation that they helped create is beyond me, but self-reflection does not appear high on the boomer strength list. They appear to believe that their failures were due to their not being tough enough on their children rather than not being tough enough on themselves. They never figured out that you can’t tell children not to be selfish and materialistic when you are exhibiting such traits yourself. Nobody sees hypocrisy more clearly than children.
I’m a Gen Xer, though in my younger days I tried to fudge the numbers and pretend I was a Baby Boomer. When I was young I was convinced that the postwar generation was going to change the world, bring about the revolution that needed to take place. And while Baby Boomers had good ideas (and hella good music), their ideas and ideals never came to fruition. They were a generation such as was described in The Gospel: “Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away.” Sadly, the Baby Boomer generation was not rooted in tradition but grew within the culture television provided for them. They were taught that material possessions would make you happy and that problems would resolve themselves within thirty minutes for less serious ones, and within an hour should they be dramatic problems.
My parents were part of the generation that witnessed The Great Depression. They always said that it was the greatest time to grow up, because though they had little, they didn’t know they were lacking because nobody else had any more than they did. They had what was important, and too often when you have more than what is important, you start mistaking the non-essential as being essential as well. You lose track of what is truly important, and you lose the miraculous present among the packaging. Those who were coming of age in the ‘60’s were aware of that, but they lost sight of it somewhere along the way. I guess television’s voice was louder than their parents’ voices. Or perhaps, the television was telling them what they wanted to hear.
Baby Boomers were the first generation raised with a television in the house. They were the first to have an authority besides their elders, the church, or the state. It worked its magic too on my generation, and on those who came after. But the lie that worked on boomers is no longer as convincing to younger generations. One difference is that people have learned from what came before. Another difference is that young people grew up with the internet, which has dispersed authority, giving individual voices a chance to grow their own audience. But perhaps the greatest reason the most recent crop of adults is rejecting the narrative of the mainstream media is that the media has been forced to deviate too far from the truth. As the power of the media grew, so too did its arrogance and its corruption. And as the media is merely one facet of the power that is behind corporations and the government, corruption and arrogance was allowed to grow there as well. As corruption grew, the lies were forced to become greater in order to cover for it.
It is too late for the Baby Boomers, for them the lie has been too comfortable. It is too late for my generation, too, because the lie has been infused with hatred for others so that we blame others without power who should be our allies. It is not too late for millennials, for whom the lie has not been comfortable and to whom much of the hatred has been directed. The lie cannot explain their reality, so there is hope yet that they will see the media for what it is: a means of control of the masses used by those with a compulsion for dominance and an insatiable hunger for more.