No sooner had I taken issue recently (in this space) with people of my generation (and older) who condescend to younger generations than I ran into yet another of those “big baby” Boomers. This refugee from the ’50s and ’60s was fairly oozing syrupy nostalgia about how idyllic and noble our childhoods were. Gag me with a Flav-R-Straw.
The tortured remembrance (on Facebook) by this high school classmate of mine lovingly recounted such rose-colored artifacts as penny candy, black-and-white TV, kickball, drinking hose water… you get the mid-century milieu.
“These were,” his post insisted, “the good ole days.” OK, fine, it’s nice and cozy to think that way when you are leaning back on life, reflecting on the setting sun of your golden years.
But then a trite trope heard from other older people these days reared its balding head with this goofy gem: “Kids today will never know how it feels to be a real kid… the kids these days will never understand how we grew up.” This from someone who willfully wants to misunderstand how today’s kids are growing up. Give it a rest, Grandpa.
He and I may be on the same actuarial table, but if that’s his hidebound attitude about today’s kids, I’d sooner eat at the kids’ table.
When you reach a point in life where you are struggling with the uncomfortable proximity of mortality, there are a number of ways to react.
Some envy the youthfulness of those who have most of their life ahead. Their way of dealing with that reality is to lash out at the offenders, whose crime is youth.
Others in the same aging cohort react with resilience. They are fascinated and stimulated by the elixir of youthfulness. Rather than be paralyzed by the past, they look forward to new gardens of opportunity that can be cultivated to make the most of the present.
Baby Boomers are not innately superior to any other generation. Nobody chooses in which era they grow up, so to brandish bravado about how “my experience” as a kid is superior to “your experience” is nothing but a sad commentary on the delusional power of aging.
Sometimes, for nourishment, I nosh on the nuggets of native wisdom spewed by Gary Vee (nee Vaynerchuk), a social media oracle whose every word is gospel to millions of Millennials and Gen Zers (even though he’s a Gen Xer).
Here’s a sampling of Mr. Vee’s well-considered rants: “We get scared of everything we didn’t grow up with. It’s what human beings do…I’m so tired of old people judging Millennials when they’re the ones who raised Millennials… Entitlement is an American thing. Who parented these children that are so entitled? They’re entitled because their parents handed everything to them.”
One of my favorite Gary Vee tweets is… “The masses always demonize the future and put the past on a pedestal…” That much is undeniable.
Under that Gary Vee Tweet, these two comments stood out to me…
@HotLinePepper replied, “[I’m] 52 and I need millennials. There is a lot to be learned from the younger generations.”
@TimBits91 wrote, “I’m a proud milennial and I’ve learned to just ignore the older gens when they try and make me feel guilty for being around today and not back then.”
Well said, @TimBits91! The less relevant some Boomers make themselves by talking down to you, the more that they are bent on throwing a pity party to wanly question your relevance. They have it backwards.
You are wise, TimBits, to ignore the holier-than-thou affliction that attends aging, but also let it be a lesson to you.
By the time you reach our age, unlike some of today’s more brittle elders, I implore you to nurture the humility and dignity that’s required to respect your juniors.
Bruce Apar appears in the original full-length play, “Goldensbridge,” on Aug. 3, 4, and 6, as part of the Broadway Bound Theatre Festival at Theatre Row on 42nd Street. The autobiographical work, by Albi Gorn, traces the author’s roots to Westchester’s Goldens Bridge colony, a utopian community settled by socialists in the mid-20th Century. For information: gojoclanproductions.com.
Bruce “The Blog” Apar is a writer, publicist, actor, civic volunteer, and sole proprietor of regional marketing agency APAR PR. He is the ghostwriter for new ForbesBooks title, “Fisch Tales: The Making of a Millennial Baby Boomer,” by Bob Fisch, now available at Amazon, WalMart, Barnes & Noble, Target, and other online bookstores. Follow him as Bruce The Blog on social media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-275-6887.