OK, Boomer

Meditations in Motion

Have you heard it? “OK, Boomer” is the dismissive phrase aimed at Baby Boomers (anyone born between the years of 1946 and 1964) that exploded into our collective consciousness this year.

Young people use it to ridicule oldsters for their lack of tech savvy, callous disregard for the planet, and condescending attitude toward the younger generation.

For those of us who remember the phrase “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” coined by activist Jack Weinberg in the 1960s, karma is catching up to us.

Yes, my generation (my birth year is firmly in the range of the Baby Boom years), who fought for social justice through anti-war demonstrations, civil rights marches, and equal rights advocacy for women, migrant farm workers, and Native Americans, was also guilty of ageism.

We called it “The Generation Gap“.

Our parents, members of The Greatest Generation, just didn’t get it, man.

Meditations in Motion

They polluted the rivers so badly that some, like Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River, actually caught on fire. The air was so foul that a hazy brown smog settled over Los Angeles.

Women were paid far less than their male counterparts in the workplace and sexual harassment was common. In education and sports, women were denied the advantages men took for granted.

Meditations in Motion

Minorities were discriminated against in housing, hiring, and schooling. Young men were drafted into the Army to fight a war halfway around the world that many saw as unjust, unnecessary, and which primarily benefited the military-industrial complex. My lucky husband missed the draft by one year.

America was being run by the powerful and corrupt and we, as the youthful outsiders, felt it was our mission to make a difference.

It seems now as though we Boomers are reaping exactly what we sowed.

Some things never change.

Baby Boomers, a little bit touchy about being mocked for our resistance to technological change, our inaction or downright denial of climate issues, and our general selfishness, have responded in a typical “OK, Boomer” fashion; we became irritated with the Millennials  and Generation Z in a “you-kids-stay-off-my-lawn” kind of way.

Can’t we all just get along?

Apparently, we can’t. And it’s the Boomers fault. Before you get all uptight, hear me out.

Even though we praise kindness and benevolence in an offhand, theoretical way, we Boomers, as a generation, haven’t really taught our children the value of compassion. An analysis of annual surveys of American college students showed a decrease from 1979 to 2009 in empathy.

Studies show young people are less sensitive, exhibit less mercy, and are less considerate than they were 40 years ago. The ability to imagine others’ feelings has declined.

Meditations in Motion

Oh, we told our kids to be nice, to play fair, to consider the Golden Rule, but what we showed them what we really prized was success. Maybe even success at all costs.

Kids learn what is important to adults by paying attention to what we do. Our society values personal achievement over compassion, happiness over empathy, and prosperity over concern for others.

It’s not only that young people care less. They are less likely to take action if someone else is treated unfairly or needs our help. Studies have shown that people born after 1995 feel less personal responsibility to help someone in trouble. Oh, they believe people should be helped; they just don’t think they should be the ones to do it.

I think we can teach children to be successful and compassionate; to have personal happiness through helping others.

Meditations in Motion

Learning to celebrate our children’s generosity and helpfulness just as much as we celebrate their good grades and achievement in sports is a start. We can give them high fives when they tell us that they sat with the lonely kid in the lunch room, accolades when they describe how they helped another student understand a difficult concept in math class.

Sometimes the kids who get all the adulation and popularity are not always the nicest children. Let’s remind our kids to appreciate kindness and compassion in others. We can make sure our children notice how their peers treat others and to seek out the company of those who are caring and sympathetic.

Parents could encourage their children to hang out with the kids who help a student who has dropped his books in the hall, rather than join the ones who taunt him. They can teach youngsters to pay attention to character.

The school I taught in began giving an award, sponsored by the good-hearted and generous owner of a local bakery, in the form of a coupon for a free doughnut (or a drink) for students caught in the act of being kind to others. Promoting understanding is possible.

Meditations in Motion

Let’s not allow differences in age and perspective divide us as they did in the past. Our society can learn to reward compassion and empathy. Let’s not get distracted from having the meaningful conversations needed to bring about positive change.

So stop rolling your eyes at our sappy Facebook posts and cringe-worthy videos, Millennials. In the words of a song popular when we Boomers were young, “All we are saying is give peace a chance“.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. Galatians 6:7.

 

I am linking with Susan B Mead for Dancing With Jesus, Lyli Dunbar for Faith on Fire, My Random Musings for Anything Goes, Bethere2day for Wordless Wednesday, Purposeful Faith for RaRa link up, Mary Geisen Tell His Story, and Morgan’s Milieu for Post, Comment, Love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

57 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and not giving an easy pass to the Boomers either. We’re all at fault when it comes to the hate-filled presence these days. We can do all better. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a very good post. Although I am glad I didn’t have to deal with social media while we were raising our daughter, more messages like this might have been a good thing. One other thing we boomers didn’t (all) do was let our children experience failure and/or disappointment. A lot of our generation worked a bit too hard to protect our kids from every depressing aspect of life. It’s hard to empathise when you have no understanding of what it feels like to go through what the other person is feeling.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Dan. So true about not allowing children to experience failure. I had some paragraphs about that in the post originally, then cut them out. Maybe I will do a future post on that topic. I think kids somehow became an extensionof their parents’ egos. We could not allow them to fail, because that became a failure for US! You are right, it does make empathy difficult.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the OK Boomer phrase. I think it’s the perfect ‘burn’ (as my kids would say to their Boomer dad). I hear continually about how the bullying in my school system is legion, but I don’t see it. It would be easy to just assume that my kids are on the safe side of the bullying, but that wouldn’t be true. They are not the ‘popular’ kids. Our school system, like your old school has made a huge deal about kindness since my kids started. They have signs everywhere about being a good citizen. Does it help? I grew up with anti-drug posters hung on every wall in school and even one at home on my wall. It had zero effect on me. I was one of the ‘bad’ kids by ninth grade. I think modeling behavior for kids is helpful, but they are going to try to be different from us no matter what we do. I think as they age/mature, these kids will become the citizens we Boomers think we already are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I first began teaching (back in the Stone Age), I taught in middle school. One afternoon a week was devoted to character education. There were all kinds of really interesting, valuable exercises we did with the kids to help them clarify their values and to emphasize the values, like kindness, generosity, etc., we felt were important. I don’t know if it helped kids or not, but I do know I had some really intense discussions with students, some of them outside of school hours, after each session. Much more effective than just hanging up posters. I have a lot of hope for the future. I think (most of) the kids I taught were much better people than I was when I was their age!

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      • I agree with that. My kids are much smarter and much more tuned in with ethics, morality, kindness, etc than I was in high school. In fact, I don’t even think awareness of ethics was expected of me.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting post, Laurie. Technically I’m a boomer too, but at the tail end.

    The funny thing is I look at my parents and I’ve gone a different way for almost my whole life; I guess it’s just my nature, I tend to march to a different drummer in general. I did things like switch to glass (mostly) and use reusable shopping bags long before it became trendy.

    I don’t say that to toot my own horn, but only to point out I don’t even have children to pass on those habits too, or worry about what sort of world we’re leaving them.

    Everyone needs to be respected, young, old and in between. It does seem as though we’re living in some dark times, and it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel– but we can all do our little piece to make it lighter, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Laurie,
    Your title drew me, a “Boomer”, right in lol. I agree that we didn’t do a great job at teaching our kids compassion and empathy. I do think, however, that in order to have more compassion, there needs to be less focus on “self”. If I had a do-over, I think I would not have let my life be so focused on my kids’ lives. In doing so, I think the message came across to them that the world is all about them…which it’s not. If our world was a little less “me-centric” I think there would be a lot more caring and compassion to go around. Like you said, we reap what we sow…great thought provoking post!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I absolutely agree,. Bev. we need to focus less on “self” in order to teach our children (and grandchildren) selfless behavior. Thank you so much for your kind comment. Blessings to you!

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  6. I, for one, am proud to be a Boomer, and I couldn’t be prouder of my children and grandchildren who are quick to show compassion and empathy for others. In fact, the slogan for Virginia’s elementary school is “Be Kind,” so she is reminded every school day how important it is to show kindness to others. I think the “Ok, Boomer” phrase is actually funny!
    Blessings, Laurie!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My children have only seen the good side of their grandparents and so they have no idea how hard it was for us boomers to rock the boat and move towards ecological and social responsibility. They don’t think we did enough because they have no idea what we were up against.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is so true. I never thought about that. My dad was a very conservative guy who was in the Greatest Generation (and a WWII vet). When the Boomers protested, marched, and organized, we were facing a sometimes hostile older generation. It took courage.

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  8. This was a great post Laurie. I, too, have heard that new cry of “OK, Boomer” and yes, it is dismissive and I don’t like it. I am proud to have earned my Boomer “stripes” and have what I consider morals and a good work ethic, the latter which I would challenge against the millennials and their need to rise the corporate ladder quickly and show no loyalty along the way … there are other traits too. Maybe I hear “OK, Boomer” and am feeling my age, but I guess it is hard to take it in stride and I am more sensitive than I thought I was.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think any time we use dismissive, rude, or condescending language, we are making ourselves feel better at the expense of someone else. In the case of OK, Boomer, the target is a whole generation of people. Generalizations like that are typically inaccurate and hurtful. I hear what you are saying.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m right in the middle of the boomer range and I don’t really care for OK, Boomer because it paints everyone with a broad brush. I have been socially active just about my whole life and I’m certainly not powerful enough to have created the environmental damage, income equality, political and financial corruption, or other – very real – challenges younger generations face. I also don’t have children so I can’t feel guilt for the way I raised my kids. Just like “Don’t trust anyone over 30” (which I was too young to have ever said), OK, Boomer is dismissive and short-sighted. We all need to treat each other as kindly as possible. We are all flawed and we all have challenges. If the younger generations are able to fix the mess we are in, I say more power to them… and I will be right by their side giving them as much support as I can.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m generally not a fan of a dismissive attitude or words, no matter who they come from. I am with you – we should treat each other with respect and kindness and as individuals. Making generalizations like “all Boomers are hopeless at technology or environmentally insensitive” is not productive or accurate.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post, Laurie. Fortunately I haven’t been called by the “Ok Boomer” phrase but my kids may have been thinking it. I was told that I gave the “middle aged white woman look” to someone and I had no idea what my daughter was talking about. I guess that may be a thing but, I am a middle aged white woman so I don’t know how I can look any other way – LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lovely post Laurie 🌹.

    😢 I had to stop reading 3/4 throw as this was bringing tears to my eyes.

    I’m a Mallenial but still things like this are near and dear to my heart.

    I am the odball as in I didn’t turn out like those around me where I grow up, I studied many things as I grow up and found my own path as to what I’ve come to believe what is right and wrong and it’s based on a simple little thing call Honor and respect for all ( something that majorly clashed with those around me ) I may be the exception here but it’s not always how you grow up that makes you how you are but your core being if you listen to it and not those around you.

    I still don’t get how things went so wrong from Love, Peace and save the planet to screw everyone Money, money, money, it bogales my mind. 🤔

    ❤️✌️
    BY FOR NOW

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know what happened either. How did s many of my generation lose their way? There are a lot of people in the world who are all about “self” and don’t care about others or the planet.

      “Different” doesn’t mean “worse”. We need to practice compassion and kindness.

      Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I think every generation is impatient with the previous generations, partly because they don’t have the depth of understanding and experiences that the elders do. And as a Gen Xer, I’m kind of impatient with everyone 😉
    But seriously, very thoughtful piece, as always!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read this was Gen X’s response to the phrase, which apparently was coined by a Gen Z-er: “if there’s any negativity to our reaction, it’s jealousy that we spent the 1990s pouring into long angsty novels the same sentiment that Gen Z managed to get across in two words. ” Made me laugh! 🙂

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  13. Very interesting, Laurie. The kids I see may be a bit different from the “norm,” because they’re Girl Scouts (I’m my daughter’s troop leader) and cross country runners but the ones I’ve come across are incredibly willing to help others and some of the most polite and empathetic kids. They give me hope that there’s hope for their generation!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Laurie, I’ve just recently discovered your blog, and although I’m not a runner, am really enjoying it because it’s so much deeper. Love this post; like so much of what’s happening in our world today, it really made me think about where we’ve fallen by the wayside. I’ve been seeing the “OK, Boomer” references a lot lately and had not even made the connection (yeah, slow me). My wife is at the tail end (1964) and I’m three years older. Your post is so wonderful and timely, with World Kindness Day having been Nov. 13 and my just having read another great piece in The Atlantic that you may have seen (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/12/stop-trying-to-raise-successful-kids/600751/). Thank you for your inspirational posts!
    Frank Christlieb,
    Arlington, TX

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Frank. I do like to run, but I like to write about the things I think about when I run. I actually thought about this “OK< Boomer" topic as a result of World Kindness Day. I didn't put that in the post. I should have. Anything that promotes kindness is something I want to boost! Thanks for the link. I will check it out. I think I did read that article.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Wonderful post, Laurie, and you hit every nail on the head. I must live in a protected corner of CA, though, because although I’ve heard about “OK, Boomer,” I haven’t actually heard it used. Certainly it hasn’t been aimed at me . . . and woe betide the young whippersnapper that tries it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually haven’t heard it used either. I’ve heard *about* it on social media, but I frequent mostly funning forums and runners are pretty tribal. We watch out for our own. I can’t imagine being told “OK, Boomer” by a fellow runner, even a young one!

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  16. The Boomers bemoan the Millennials and vice versus.I am sure this happened in generations past. But it seems like it is getting more pointed. I know Millennials are made fun of a lot, but I know so many Millennials I am so proud of.

    We do need to teach our children kindness, helping others, and empathy. Without these, our society is not a good place to live. One way to begin, is to value and appreciate the different generations we have around us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I taught many Millennials during my tenure as a chemistry teacher. These students were almost universally fine, generous, kind people who volunteered their time in service to others and helped peers without being asked. I have a great deal of hope for our future!

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  17. I appreciate that your posts make me think! Thank you for that. And in thinking about this topic, I wonder if some of the lack of compassion and empathy comes from the popularity of computer games. Kids the ages you mentioned have grown up on a extracurricular diet of violent computer games, locked up inside their homes with little social interaction. And I would be interested to know if families are more or less likely to have pets these days. I think children can learn to be loving and kind by having pets. But families have become so busy these days. I don’t know if pets fit into their busy schedules. Anyway, just thinking of some of the things I have seen personally with children in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your very kind comment. Yes, I do think the increasing isolation that computer games bring about hampers kids from learning empathy and compassion. When kids play together, they have to figure out the rules. They get to see firsthand what makes other kids angry or sad or willing to play. They are not being socialized to the extent they were in the past. I am not sure about pets, but it seems like they might be something a perpetually busy family would not have time for.

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