Tuesday, April 11, 2006

They May Rue The Day

I keep thinking about generational forces. My Grandmother was just this past weekend moved to an Assisted Living facility (they need to find a better name for it, this one doesn't exactly trip off the tongue) and as my Mom or sister would explain some particularity of my Grandma's the staff would just nod and say "We've seen that before".

And then I read an article recently in the latest issue of Details Magazine about Generation X, the forgotten, passed over, overlooked, underappreciated generation. The author laments our fate as if lamenting is going to do anything to change our situation. I can't say as I disagree with anything he says, I just don't feel like lamenting it.

But I do look forward to the day, perhaps when my own mother is old enough to need some help living out her days, when the Baby Boom generation has to be taken care of by their own (mostly, and some of my generation's as well actually) spawn, the thirteeners, or Generation Y, who are generally self-centered, money and thing-oriented. You can call it technology or fashion or information technology or entertainment or whatever you want but it is all still stuff! The Baby Boom generation may rue the day they screamed to the Greatest Generation (Tom Brokaw's nomiker, not mine) that no one over 30 should be trusted. Well, funnily enough, guess they never thought they would experience it, but they are now all weeeeellllll over 30 and getting ready to retire.

Now the Baby Boomers are busily criticizing the children they raised as materialistic and impatient. I wonder why that is? The Baby Boomers changed the world, there is no doubt about that - they changed it for the better when they protested the Vietnam War and segregation and for women's rights - but then they changed it for the worse as they bought in to corporate culture to make a living and became 'the man' of the corporate world. The Boomers innovations in the corporate world include mass marketing - of stuff - and mass layoffs. What happened to their idealism once they themselves hit the workforce? Maybe they were right, you can't trust anyone over 30 to have a vision for the country. Isn't the current Administration largely made up of Boomers? And look how they have changed the world!

All that self-righteous, self-satisfied assurance that they were right from their protest days filed neatly into their work lives. But what world have they created? It is a consummer culture now. What good does a consummer culture do for a person who can no longer consume? How much fun is it to be sitting in the nursing home alone while your spawn are off shopping? If Generation Y were, in effect, taught to love only youth and beauty then how will they feel about their wrinkly old parents? And by that time their rapidly wrinkling selves will require quite a lot of plastic surgery and treatments to keep that youthful, pouty look. Where will they find time for that quaint old-timey pastime, human interaction? And will they look good doing it? Will any of the nursing staff notice their new Prada handbag, cause if they don't, really, what's the point.

I guess fighting the man makes one forget that eventually you will yourself become the man and then the old man who needs the new man to take care of you. Creating a fighting, 'I'm right, I deserve' kind of culture is not really very self-serving in the long run, is it? I wonder if Boomers are wondering where the time went and what cause they will fight now. Perhaps a little more understanding and respect from the get-go might have served them in the long term. We are now in a place where we don't see or hear 'old folks', just the way when Boomers were children they were not meant to be seen or heard. Funny how you end up more like your parents than you ever thought you would.

Wonder if the Boomer will have the energy to now fight the youth culture they created so that as oldsters they can be seen and heard.

1 comment:

demondoll said...

The Boomers are a huge demographic, and (so far) are plenty rich, so we will definitely have to wait some to see how it plays out. You're right. When the examples shown are selfish and heedless for the future, how will the following generations feel about caring for them?
Gotta admit, though. My folks have been a shining example of how to care for those you love. They still support relatives in PI.