Tension among generations has been going on for, well, generations. I can still hear my own parents: "It's not even music, it's just noise." Personally, I have no issues with Gen X or Z or even the so-called "Greatest Generation," although the label is a bit presumptuous. However, I do resent the condescending attitude of Millennials aimed at my people, Baby Boomers. I would share my feelings in a scathing post on the Facebook; but, I don't know how. So, here I am.
In today's workplace, Baby Boomers are increasingly out-numbered by Millennials. As individuals I find them bright and earnest. But, as a group? What a bunch of know-it-alls they can be. They've shamed me into giving up my checkbook as if I was attempting to make a trade with glass beads. They bully me into doing everything on my phone except speak with them. "Text me!" Now, they even berate me for inserting a double-space after periods. Please, it's not about "computerized proportional spacing." It's more effective communication, creating a visual cue that signals the end of a thought. Space. Space.
And, evidently, I'm taking the nuance of the semicolon with me to my grave.
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What did I ever do to you, Millennials? I've quietly endured your lack of cultural literacy with my usual grace. I ignore the fact you believe Roy Rogers is a type of hamburger. And, I've patiently explained time and again why I "dial" phone numbers and why "love means never having to say you’re sorry." On the other hand, you have been high-handed and contemptuous of Baby Boomer shortcomings as if having opposable thumbs, and the ability to type with both, catapults you to the next rung on the evolutionary ladder.
Please consider this: There is a great deal to admire about the Baby Boomer generation. Perhaps most notably, is our perseverance. After all, we are the generation that survived the Cold War and the great culling of Vietnam, drugs and AIDS. Sure, Benjamin Franklin coined the phrase, "Question authority." But, we put it on a poster. And, we truly "lived" it. We attempted to change the world by righting wrongs. We didn’t always succeed. But, we did make substantial progress. Civil Rights. Women’s Rights. LGBTQ Rights. And, (here’s the point) we’re still trying.
I participated recently in a local social justice action. The average age of the group was easily 70+ and there was at least one walker and two canes required. I was reminded again: Baby Boomers do persevere. We are redefining what it means age "gracefully." Indeed, based on the skyrocketing number of joint replacements, we are re-defining what it means to age at all. Please bear this in mind when economists publicly disparage Baby Boomers as the "pig in the python." What nerve.
"Baby Boomer" is a dismissive and misleading moniker. In fact, we ought to be called "Generation E" for endeavor and endurance. Sure, we exhale audibly when we sit down. But remember, we continue to get up…time after time after time. This alone is worthy of recognition and respect. Happy New Year, Generation E.
Ken Croken, of Davenport, is a senior vice president at TAG Communications and will join the Scott County Board of Supervisors in January.