When disgraced politico Steve Bannon exclaimed that baby boomers are the most self-centered, most narcissistic generation the U.S. has ever had, I could only shake my head because he, himself is a boomer. I wonder if it is from self-loathing that he made such a remark or if it was merely to score political points. Regardless of the reason, it is unwise and unkind to smear entire groups of people with toxic stereotypes and to stir up hatred.
Whether or not anyone is clinically diagnosed as self-centered and narcissistic, is up to a mental health professional regarding a particular patient to determine. Otherwise Bannon’s use of the term defames millions of people. The term “narcissism” has become watered down due to its popular useage by many self-proclaimed self-help experts. Being self-centered and narcissistic are traits that are not limited to boomers nor any other generation. Such behavior has likely been present in great numbers in nearly any generation one can think of. Just because you or I do not like the behavior of certain people does not necessarily mean such people are narcissists nor self-centered.
One of the reasons I’m touching upon this topic today, is that there seems to be increasing hostility being directed towards people born in the “baby boom” era–1946 to 1964. There are millions of us in the world. I am hard-pressed to find any one, distinguishing personality trait that could legitimately be used as a blanket description of all of us.
Politically, we range the gamut between rightwing radicals to leftwing radicals with mostly some flavor of moderates between the two. There were millions of us who were vocally anti Vietnam war and millions who served in the military–a great number made the ultimate sacrifice. Our career and job paths have varied as much as any other generations have, given time-relevant social and technological parameters. There are a few billionaire boomers, a great many who have maintained some semblance of middle class living, and millions of boomers who fall below the official poverty line. Whatever behavioral, human category one can determine, people differ in unique ways–regardless of which arbitrary generation name applies to us.
Much of the anti-boomer antipathy seems to be generated by politicians who aim to dismember Social Security and Medicare. Political agendas are easier to fulfill if you have a scapegoat group to exploit, even if it is one’s own. If people already harbor resentments about a certain group, it is easier to sway popular opinion.
Some experts believe that the current trend of boomer bashing is just another flavor of the “generation gap”. Many boomers blamed their parents for the percieved bad state of the world. The “silent generation” liked to blame the “lost generation” before them. This trend goes on to antiquity. In fact, anthropologists have found mention of age-gap hostility ever since the development of writing–some 5,000 years ago. I’m guessing that “generation gaps” existed before then, as well. People have long grumbled about old fogy behavior and “young people these days”.
We notice generational discord more clearly in the present because the pace of social and technological progress is far more pronounced now than in previous decades. Also, as a whole, humans have a longer lifespan. Plus people of older generations traveled less often and to fewer far destinations than are common today. Then there is the propensity of many folks towards projection. That is, people griping about behavior they themselves do. Then there is the Internet with its good and bad points.
Like it or not, people like to make artificial divisions. Although it is unfair, we differentiate between all sorts of categories for convenience sake–many times, unfairly. There are some who are in favor of building walls, some of us who want to tear down the walls, and others pointing accusing fingers at the people building or tearing down walls. This will probably go on far into the future, too.
I suppose all I can hope to do whenever I see or hear “boomer bashing”, is to listen to the complaints and offer my own viewpoint when and where appropriate. In the end, I am not a spokesperson for all baby boomer folks, nor can I fairly judge people who born in other years, either. Each of us are individuals with different priorities, beliefs, and personality traits.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes author, former governmental official, U.S. Senator, and producer, Jim Webb. “World War II brought the Greatest Generation together. Vietnam tore the Baby Boomers apart.”
I think that the word “boomer”, rather than referring to a certain age, refers to a certain mindset.
I feel the impulse to use the expression “OK boomer” whenever someone says things like “people have no morals nowadays”, “young people are lazy”, “back in my day we studied/worked/ accomplished more” and so on. It doesn’t have to do with the age per se.
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Reblogged this on Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News.
I think the only thing you can legitimately say about the characteristics of a large group of people is that on the whole they are average.
That seems to be a safe choice.
I’m a millennial and I think this tendency to stoke resentment between the different generations is ridiculous. While I think there is some truth to the idea of generation living through different circumstances and having different values, I think on the whole it’s impossible and unproductive to make such generalizations.
Agreed. We’re all in this world together.