By Dr. Sal Martingano, FICPA
“It’s not enough that our political landscape is filled with land mines, now we have a generational war brewing over inherent ideological differences. We need to find “a truce” for all our sakes.”
“Ok Boomer”: The End of Friendly Generational Relations?
According to the New York Times, “OK Boomer” marks the end of friendly generational relations. Now it’s war. Gen-Z has finally snapped over climate change and financial inequality. In a viral video posted on TikTok, a boomer in a baseball cap and polo shirt declares the following:
“The Millennials and Generation Z have Peter Pan Syndrome; they don’t ever want to grow up.”@linzrinzz via TikTok
Along side the video clip is a young man listening to the demeaning language, visibly annoyed but saying nothing- except holding up a sign that simply reads: “OK…Boomer” the equivalent of rolling one’s eyes in disdain.
JUST SO YOU KNOW: As a Boomer myself, I can relate to the Millennial and Gen-Z sentiment.
Years ago, I remember listening to the same type message (different content) and “flipping the bird” at the old guy. I knew the message had validity, but his tone and condescending attitude made me want to “shoot the messenger”.
How Things Have Changed… How Nothing Has Changed
“There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.”Harry S. Truman
To update the above quote from President Harry Truman (quite possibly the “boomeriest” of boomers) for today’s society, it should read: “There is nothing new in this world; only recycled, updated, old stuff.”
My children (Generation X) became the next generation to distrust the abilities and motives of their parent’s generation. Gen-X are those that are usually considered apathetic, cynical, skeptical, loners that do not trust the traditional values and institutions. Sound familiar?
In reality, my children did exactly what my generation did- by realizing they were the next generation to take over the country. “CHANGE” is always the battle cry; however, rarely do we know what that change is, until it happens.
The Millennial and Gen-Z generations are the products of Gen-X and oh… what a pleasure it was to see my Gen-Xers struggle with the insolence of their offspring. God does indeed have a sense of humor. 🙂
So… What Can Boomers and Millenials Alike Learn from “Ok Boomer”?
- Don’t Just Preach: Spouting out platitudes and generalized clichés is not a teaching tool. It’s a turn off.
- Listen First: Conversations are bi-directional. You talk, the other listens, then YOU shut up and listen. Without listening, there is no learning.
- Understand All Sides: Yes, I did my share of dictatorial speeches (sometimes warranted) but I also made sure my message had meaning, by listening. Often, we speak and ASSUME the message is understood, but rarely assume the person has opposing thoughts.
- Teach and Learn From Experience: Older generations grow up with a certain mind-set, determined by experience or default. Without that same experience, their offspring have no reference but their own.
- Don’t Get Hung Up On Physical Appearances: Physical appearance is always misunderstood by prior generations, who themselves were misunderstood by their parents. Dyed hair and weird fitting cloths (for example) are expressions of nonconformity that all generations eventually resolve (remember the Hippies) and should not be the measuring stick to determine the validity of anyone’s ideals.
- Understand The Illusion of The Money Trail: “Follow the money trail” often yields important motives. Myrna Blyth, an executive for AARP (the over 50 organization), made a disparaging comment about Millennials on stage at the “Forget Millennials – Why it’s time to invest in Boomers” panel- implying “We (the boomers) actually have the money.” This helped spark the “OK Boomer” movement. BUT… Hey Millenials, being old and having money is not as easy as you may think. Boomers are targets. AARP makes a royalty of 5% on top of the cost of every healthcare premium they sponsor. They rake in billions in over-rides- and the boomers haven’t got a clue!!
A Brief Historical Boomer Reference (Bear with Me)
Ok… Stop Rolling Your Eyes. 🙂 This is Just a Quick Story for Reference:
It was the mid 1950’s, a time when first wave boomers like me were about to enter puberty. With rising testosterone levels and the realization that my parent’s generation hasn’t got a clue about what they started by creating the 76 million independent baby boomer thinkers, I entered the ‘twilight zone’ of uncertainty faced by every succeeding generation.
Schools were incredibly overcrowded with over 50 of us in every class. The crowded streets of America became individual colonies. Young adults learned life’s lessons through some outdated parental guidance but mostly through the school of hard knocks.
There was no forgiveness. If you didn’t make the “cut”, it was because you sucked. Either you learned through mentorship or you did not succeed. There was no technology other than in-house rotary phones and AM push button radios in cars. Our parents, the product of the great depression, had little money, but offered life skills we didn’t appreciate till decades later. We didn’t hate our parent’s generation- they were just outdated. We had a different perspective on life.
“Ok Boomer” has become the Millennials repeated retort to the problem of older people who just don’t get it. It’s a rallying cry for millions of fed up kids. Teenagers use it to reply to any person over 30 who says something condescending about young people- and the issues that matter to them.
So… What’s The Take-Away for This Boomer?
1. LEARN FROM YOUNGER GENERATIONS
I have gained immeasurable knowledge and guidance from my Gen-X children on business, marketing, public relations and progress, and I suggest the same for all boomers.
2. STAY UP TO DATE WITH TECHNOLOGY/BOND WITH YOUR GRANDKIDS
Instead of being computer and technology illiterate, listen to your grandkids, they love to make fun of boomers while teaching us new skills.
Every generation has its challenges. Every generation is initially treated with minimal respect, so get over it and move on.
4. DON’T FORGET WE WERE ALL REBELS ONCE
Boomers are former hippies and thrived on rebellion. Boomers also built the infrastructure for Gen-X and Millennials, so it’s no surprise they’re rebelling against seemingly outdated principles as well. Everyone has the right to question their establishment- especially when betterment is the goal. We must all remember that.
The life cycle from young to old is filled with challenges and rewards. The “OK Boomer” movement, like other past generational movements, creates generational identity and solidarity but also distracts from necessary conversation.
As a boomer, I recognize the need for ushering in a New America; we did the same in the 1960’s. Let’s show some respect for our humanity and enjoy the ride into progress.
The Youth of Today will be the Boomers of Tomorrow.
A more in depth understanding about the history and lessons learned from generational youth rebellion is contained in my newly-released book:
“The Declaration of Dependence: A Betrayal of the American Dream” – BOOK ONE: Media and the Government
Now Available on Amazon.com!
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE YOUR COPY TODAY!
To learn more about Sal Martingano’s upbringing as an Italian from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York, check out his latest book:
“Boys of Brooklyn… A Time When Life Never Sucked”.
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE YOUR COPY TODAY!