Seven years ago (holy balls, this blog is old), I wrote about how generations are a mostly useless way to figure out how any one person will preside over the free world. Unfortunately, nobody read it, because the generations are now using their birth decades to wage an online civil war between the only two generations that matter now: Baby Boomers and Millennials.
So, I’m upgrading my original pronouncement from 2009. Your generation doesn’t just suck, it’s also horsesh*t, and here’s why …
Baby Boomers didn’t break the world, and Millennials won’t destroy it, either
So, if you read anything online (hell, even this site), you’ll see that Baby Boomers dumped a broken world onto Millennials with their greed and lack of foresight. Or was it that Millennials are destroying the world with their safe spaces and unwillingness to buy things?
The world has always had problems. More accurately, human beings have always caused problems, mostly because we’re still figuring things out. Only 240 years ago, we took our marching orders from a guy in a wig and high heels. A little more than 150 years ago, we decided that maybe people shouldn’t be property. 50 years ago, Boomers led the fight to finally give full rights to those free people and then make sure everyone had them, including women and gay people. And now, both Boomers and Millennials (and the other currently living generations) are continuing along what Dr. King called the long arc of the moral universe toward justice for all gender identities and religions — even the scary ones.
And, every point in that history, the generation pushing for progress didn’t just meet resistance from the older generation. They met it from within their own generation, too. Brothers (and sisters) fought on opposite sides of the moral question of slavery, civil rights, and marriage equality. For every Millennial like Malala Yousafzai, there is a Justin Bieber just as for every Boomer Karl Rove, there is a Pope Francis.
The point is that, even though there are at least three other generations alive right now (Gen X, the Silent Generation and the Greatest Generation according to Tom Brokow), there can only be one self-obsessed generation to save the world, and it’s between the last one that tried and the one that’s trying now. But, it’s not because either one has a messianic complex or anything, right?
But, it’s easy to pretend that there have always only been two generations at any time because …
Generations are made up horsesh*t
Without looking it up, are you Millennial or a Gen Xer?
Unless you were born before 1980 or after 1990, you know instinctively which one. Everyone else (myself included) mostly denies being a Millennial the same way every hipster hates it when you call them one.
It doesn’t help that the Millennial years are a moving mark, depending on the purposes of whoever is writing a think piece or rebranding MTV at the moment. So many people are both simultaneously Millennial and not Millennial that it should be called the Quantum Generation, because it’s solely determined by whoever is observing them at the moment.
For marketing purposes, Millennials are 18 to 25 years old … unless the sales department thinks 26 to 34 year olds might buy something, too. Then they become Millennials as well because of some bullsh*t about shared values and the reality of willingness to spend disposable income on a new product.
Even demographers, the only people who really apply science behind generations, can’t keep track. This week, everyone was excited that Millennials finally outnumber the Boomers … except they already have for years now. In fact, the generation behind Millennials — which hasn’t been named yet because they haven’t bought anything yet — already outnumbered Boomers, too.
Really, if Millennials want to prove they’re better than Boomers — or, again, the other contemporary generations — they could prove it by not falling for the same Madison Avenue-generated horoscopes they paste on every target group for the Shake Weight.
Because, finally …
Millennials need mentors
Right now, all of the Baby Boomer candidates in the election sound like complete asshats next to the one person Millennials are listening to: the Silent Generation’s Bernie Sanders. Half of a generation is voting for the first time — which means that, when Bernie inevitably loses the primary (he’s lost the east coast, it’s all but over) — they will probably never vote again.
That sounds good if you’re a Hillary supporter or a Republican, but it really means that politics will get worse.
Bernie’s biggest mistake has been expecting a generation who historically has not voted suddenly being able to work their way through a system designed to discourage voting. The clowns he’s running against don’t campaign to the country, they campaign to the people they know will vote. If we lose another generation to the polls like we lost Gen X, then picture Trump’s campaign in an election when less than half of America mobilizes to vote against him.
I’m afraid I have to ask Boomers to do something they don’t want to do: admit they’re getting old. No more 40 is the new 30, 50 is the new 40, etc. Jane Fonda looks the way she does because she’s the product of the Hollywood breeding program and limitless money, not because her generation is the first to solve cellular decay.
Getting old means taking a little bit of a backseat and teaching. And mostly to start worrying about what they’re leaving behind. Earth Day was commendable, but it’s time to take renewable energy and global commitments to reduce emissions seriously. And it’s been 33 years since 99 Luftballons, and we’re still ordering more nukes into development?
If Boomers start taking sh*t a little more seriously, like maybe they’re running out of time to do the things they promised, then I guarantee that the Millennials in the office might look at Boomers as less of a threat and more as an ally. At the very least, they’ll need to find somebody to look up to when Bernie dies from being 10,000 years old.
And if there’s anything Millennials need right now, it’s the perspective of the other generation that convinced itself it was time to save the world. Perspective is what we all need.