Baby Boomers have been credited with and blamed for many things over the years including free thinking to outright greed.
During the years following World War II–from 1946 to 1964–72-million boomers were born. As a tail-end boomer I feel fortunate to benefit from the initiatives of leading-edge boomers such as equal rights and improved healthcare; yet, there are times I feel shortchanged by the fallout from short-sightedness.
Despite recent labels applied to us as the “ruinous generation,” I see us continually creating a better life for all. When the last of us walks across Rainbow Bridge (with our pets), we will be regarded as The Boomer Generation who didn’t settle for status quo–or The Greatest Generation on steroids.
WHAT GOOD HAVE BABY BOOMERS BEEN?
We speak out.
We have a voice. We don’t accept things as they are; especially, if we think we can improve them.
We are more outspoken and an activist demographic. Consider our civil rights and Vietnam War protests.
We ask questions and engage in dialogue; unlike my late parents’ generation who accepted the word of authority as gospel. We partner with our doctors as we discuss options for our healthcare.
We are inventors
Who could have imagined being able to take photos, talk on the phone, keep a calendar and contacts, listen to music, and shoot or watch videos with one hand-held device?
Imagine traveling back in time to the 1950s and asking someone to capture this historic moment by taking your picture with your “phone.” What? Where’s the film in this thing?
We are doers and the hardest-working generation yet.
Unlike June Cleaver’s husband and Ozzie Nelson who worked close to home, few of us can enjoy a homemade midday lunch at home. We’re working long days and many of us have long commutes.
We’re active and enjoy nature. Can you imagine Mr. Cleaver running the trails during weekends wearing his thumb-sized MP3 player clipped to his antimicrobial shirt?
We want everything fast–from our food to our information.
- Instant coffee heated in the microwave still takes too long.
- Instant messaging and even Skype video-conferencing is how we’re connecting.
We need to have information from around the world…now.
We don’t have time to page through volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica.
Remember the door-to-door encyclopedia salesmen?
We use Wikipedia.
We don’t have time to visit our local library and search in a card catalog.
Instead we search for books online at Amazon or use the library’s computers.
We don’t even have time to browse our heirloom cookbooks for a recipe.
Today, we hastily search on recipes.com.
Everyone with an Internet connection can learn almost anything about anyone or thing or place by doing a Google search. You can even do this on your smart phone in your car (hopefully not while driving)! Imagine a law in the 1950s prohibiting texting while driving. Huh? What’s texting?
Despite all the good we baby boomers are credited with, we have a dark side.
BAD BABY BOOMERS
Boomers have been blamed for being greedy, self-interested, and shortsighted. I came into a world with 3 billion people. Forty years later there were 6 billion of us. Today we’re approaching 7 billion. To meet all our needs we became more efficient and lost our connection with one another.
Our technological innovations and convenience comes with a downside–depersonalization and fake food.
Don’t you just love calling customer service only to get lost in the maze of or disconnected by the automated messaging center?
We’re eating less real food. Have you read the list of ingredients on your convenience foods, lately? Do you recognize most of those chemicals that make up your diet soda or your “natural” snacks? Soylent Green is looking increasingly “organic” these days.
Remember, “American capitalism” also provided the fertile ground for today’s economic crisis to grow. Make a profit at any price. Which leading-edge short-sighted boomers gave the directive to dispose of the soon-to-fail sub-prime mortgage loans that investors eagerly scooped up? If we can’t trust Lehman Brothers who can we trust? America’s middle class is still holding the bag of debt left by self-interested parties who were rewarded with millions.
Leading-edge boomers have disserved us.
After the Northridge earthquake, too many homeowners filed claims and enjoyed complete remodels after suffering only minimal damage. When asked why, they explained, “Hey, we’ve paid premiums all these years to these rich insurance companies! It’s time we collect. Besides, everyone else is doing it.”
The result? Today few can afford earthquake insurance because many insurance companies no longer offer it and those that do charge thousands of dollars.
Initial self-interest serves only in the short-term. Over time, we all lose.
This may also be the reason why so few of us are signing up for long term care insurance according to Genworth and MetLife studies. Given what’s happened to “too-big-to-fail” companies, can we really be certain there will be enough when tail-end Boomers need to collect?
The TIDE is TURNING
Boomers are growing more conscious of our impact around the world and leading initiatives toward change.
We’re more concerned for our environment than prior generations.
We recycle more of the disposables we produce–from diapers and water bottles to electronics.
We’re even embracing the idea of reusing our hotel sheets and towels instead of having them changed daily.
We’re talking more about leaving minimal footprints and living simply.
We’re embracing experiences more than things. We’re looking to live in smaller homes and drive fuel-efficient cars. Seen an ad for a Hummer, lately?
As caregivers we’re learning more, connecting with others, and embracing the experience as a life journey to make us better.
Just a half century ago, loved ones with Alzheimer’s were locked in bedrooms, basements, or committed to sanitariums.
With greater knowledge and support, we better understand our loved ones’ behaviors. We believe it’s their right to age with dignity in their own homes (thanks to assistive technologies) or in continuing care communities where they may “age in place.”
They may still remain understandably confused about taking pictures with a “phone.”
As we tail-end boomers find our way, we may return to our leading-edge roots that made us famous and embrace the freedom of the Woodstock generation wearing nature’s clothing with a nerdy twist, like being cotton engineered to dry 5 times faster after getting soaked crossing mountain streams.
And the momentum is growing. Generation Xers and Ys show no signs of slowing down. They’re even finding ways to help us connect more personally in today’s world. Who has not heard of FaceBook?
What are your thoughts? I invite your comments below.
Brenda Avadian, MA