Ok, Boomer is one of the bigger catchphrases to catch traction in the last few years and I have have a few thoughts on it. I wasn’t sure where to go on about this conundrum. So I decided I’m just going to leave it here in hopes that it’s received as was intended. Open for discussion and without hostility! Unless you believe I deserve it, in which case I am willing to listen.
When I first heard the term “Ok, Boomer” I found it to be disrespectful, nasty, and dismissive. Unlike “Karen’s” where a group of people is being attacked based on their behavior this felt like outright ageism and it pissed me off. Over the last few months, my opinion has shifted.
Now, hear me out…….
I’m almost 40 years old, likely halfway through this thing called life if all goes fancy. I don’t feel like I’m at the halfway mark, and sometimes it feels strange to realize I’m not still sitting at the kid’s table anymore. That being said, in my early 30’s I felt pretty right about my views on life, politics, spirituality, and the great existential ideologies that keep us up when we are trying to sleep at night.
A few years ago I started to recognize my subconscious acts of confirmation bias. This happened by accident while doing other “life” “look into oneself” work. I realized I had stopped listening to others and had started listening to mostly what I wanted to echo. This is something I am certain we are all guilty of. In my pursuit of understanding and being a better version of myself, I decided to start shutting up and listening to a lot more. (Obviously, I still don’t refrain from flapping my jaws, but you get my meaning.)
My sociological experiment began in the house of social media. I stopped posting things other than running and Adam after he was born, and I stopped engaging in discussions. What I did do was read and listen to what others had to say. I tried to listen to every side of an argument in the hopes of understanding. Not surprisingly in the setting of conflict what you begin to hear is people virtually talking over each other exerting dominance and authority.
Don’t worry, I’m getting back to “Ok, Boomer”.
This went on for years, aside from “nerdy” groups I belonged to. Then here came Covid-19 and quarantine life. To make myself more available to my extrovert friends and family that I could not see I once again became active on social media. I began actually engaging rather than just perusing and observing. I wasn’t the only one. What started off as a lot of united voices crying out in uncertainty degraded into much louder voices barking at each other in a battle of which side is right.
This ongoing virtual battle (that has always been present) was much more hostile than most in recent times. It was becoming apparent that there was a common behavioral connection that I not only experienced myself but saw regularly elsewhere. It was blanket ageism. In both directions. Perhaps Covid-19 wasn’t getting blamed on the youth (in some cases it nearly has been), but the opinions of those younger than anyone with a few gray whiskers on them were disregarded based on not living enough life. Which is pretty amazing, because I know some pretty well-rounded 16-year-olds and some pretty thick-headed and dim-witted 60-year-olds. And that pendulum swings both ways.
There is nothing that can replace the act of life experiences and time. Wisdom gained through practice is not an activity that can be learned through storytelling. But because you’ve existed for a certain period of time does not mean you’ve actually learned more. The more years I cycle the more obvious it becomes I don’t know much. My opinions shouldn’t be valued over someone who is 25 based on my time spent on this planet. They should be valued on mutual respect and what we both have to offer each other in the way of actual knowledge. And sure, experience too. But experiences aren’t just facts, they are also perception.
REGULARLY I have observed the constant dismissal or patronizing comments to people who are younger based on just their age. I have personally been chastised and spoken to like a child just brought to life (which has incited my Denzel Washington “Philadelphia” response – “Tell it to me like I’m a 4-year-old”) on what I do or do not know without ever bothering to inquire. It pissed me off watching it done to others and it also pissed me off sitting with it personally. So I began to ask myself if I was guilty of doing the same. The answer is probably yes.
So what that brings me to is “Ok, Boomer” okay? No, it’s really not, but now I’m starting to empathize with a generation that’s being marginalized. Age, sex, and cultural background do play a part on our opinions. However, they are not definitive tools to write someones opinion off. Even though it seems every generation born gets the “you’ve diminished the line” footnote it does seem like this newest generation has taken a lot of heat. Perhaps some heat we all should take some accountability for as a society rather than individuals.
Lesser, greater, middling….it’s all the same
Younger, middle-aged, and older folks……none of us have this figured out, but what is always available is the opportunity to learn and listen to one another. This generational battle is really quite trite when you sit back and think about it. I know 20 somethings with more wisdom than a pack full of 80-year-olds that have seen it all. I have 60 something friends that are more open-minded and free spirited than any 20 something I’ve ever known. In my group of middle-aged folk I also know plenty of complete dolts.
So, basically…..knock it off: Ok, Boomer? And everyone else!