Posted in on April 4, 2013

Baby Boomer Bashing: I just don’t get it

When Chuck Nyren once called me an “honorary baby boomer,” I couldn’t have been prouder. When my boss said “What are you, 80?” after I commented on the neighbor’s new tramp stamp (easily seen from my office window … on a 30-degree day in February), I was more flattered than insulted.

I may be GenX but my job for the last eight years has been to try to understand these older generations in such a way that I can, on behalf of clients, connect with them and motivate them to act. So being told I’m thinking as someone older than my years — That’s praise.

Another part of my job is to understand digital media in such a way that I can, on behalf of clients, connect with older adults via Facebook and YouTube and blogs (oh, my!). Recently we added WordPress SEO by Yoast to this very blog.  I was shocked when typing in the “focus keyword” a drop-down menu appeared with the following suggestions:

Suggested keywords for "baby boomers" reveals a sad, negative trend


Take any other group descriptor — say, women or Christian — and imagine your reaction if you’d seen a list of suggestions like that. “Women selfish”? “Christians worst group”?

Do baby boomers suck? Here’s what I know about US Baby Boomers. They were born between 1946 and 1964, which makes them between 67 and 49 years old. There are more than 78 million of them.

That’s it. That’s what we know for sure.

“If you’ve met one baby boomer … you’ve met one boomer,” I was once told. This is not one monolothic entity that thinks and acts as an evil-life-sucking blob, any more than Millennials are a monolithic entity that acts as a mommy’s-money-sucking blob.

Boomers are a cohort of 78 million people. 78 million individuals.

  • Some, I am sure are selfish. So are many 7 year olds, 17 year olds, 37 year olds … My Nana (who I adored) was an only child lucky enough to be pampered by all the adults in her life throughout the Great Depression. She could be a somewhat selfish woman right up to her passing at 98.
  • Some do likely suck. There are rude, annoying people in every generation.
  • And some are amazingly inspiring people. Patient mentors. Endlessly giving parents, grandparents, aunts. People on the front lines of women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights, and every other struggle we’ve seen in the past 50 years.

When NPR dared to call a 71-year-old woman “elderly” in a recent headline, the backlash was such that it spawned three blog posts and a thoughtful discussion about language. Why then can so many people write blog posts with a theme of “baby boomers suck,” that not only isn’t it challenged it becomes a suggested keyword?

I’m not sure which part of my personality is most offended: the honorary baby boomer, the 80-year-old, the Gen Xer … I think it’s most likely THE HUMAN in me.

Baby boomer bashing? I just don’t get it.

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