This month has brought an interesting wave of Boomer bashing articles and op-ed pieces from across the nation.
Martin Kuz, a reporter for SF Weekly, wrote a hostile diatribe entitled "Boomtastrophe." This article has no pretense of being journalistically objective. Not a week later, Matt Thornhill with The Boomer Project sent me a column by 28-year-old Caille Millner at the San Francisco Chronicle.
Christopher Buckley's new novel, Boomsday, is receiving loving praise from Boomer detractors (including Caille), and then to cap off the deluge a columnist at the Rocky Mountain News threw her attitude at Boomers with a column entitled, "Move along, you Boomers, what have you truly done?"
All this recent hostility must be the result of something in the nation's water supply.
1) "Tick, tick, Boomers. Your time is up. For God's sake, get out of the way."
2) "Never in the history of the United States has one generation taken up so much physical and psychic energy."
3) "You spent the 60's changing the world, but apparently weren't all that effective."
4) "Throughout music, movies and art, we've all been made repeatedly and painfully aware of the superiority (if not hegemony) of the Biggest Generation."
Although I'd very much appreciate having the time and platform to address all these critics, few of the media sponsoring them truly allow objective, fact-based and insightful rebuttals. My retorts can sometimes go to the heart of things and cause uncomfortable awareness that Boomers are their best customers/subscribers/readers/sources of remuneration.
So here is my rebuttal to Lisa Bornstein. Maybe she'll go beyond gratitude (a terse thank you email) and attempt to address some of the issues clouding her better judgment about Boomers:
An Open Letter to Lisa Bornstein, re: “Move along, you Boomers …”
Many people of your generation are very good friends of mine; we work well together and get along. Nevertheless, your antediluvian and tiresome way of thinking divides society generationally into “us” and “them,” fomenting useless animosity between age groups.
So, once again, on behalf of the 78 million members of the Baby Boomer generation, I apologize for myriad transgressions we’ve imposed on your Generation X. Although we can never make up for decades of perceived injustices, I encourage you to look on the bright side.
Being part of a younger and smaller generation will soon have economic advantages. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, our nation will confront a 10-million worker shortfall by 2010. That means lots of available jobs for younger people to fill.
Further, you can expect Boomers to help make America a better place to grow old. Just as Boomer women helped force the workplace to become more accommodating for young columnists who prefer not to work as “Gal Fridays,” we will challenge ageist claptrap such as that which dominates your op-ed piece.
Boomers have a longevity bonus of 25 to 40 additional years, thanks in part to their contributions to science (15 of the 16 honorees in TIME magazine’s “America’s Best in Science and Medicine”). Thus, we have time to make America a better place for you to age. We even have time for forgiveness.
As for Boomers’ historic dominance of popular music, I can’t offer much solace except to point out that many artists near your age — many of them influenced by classic rockers — are contributing brilliantly: Sarah McLachlan and James Blunt, for example. Plus, Boomers buy a majority of the CDs being sold today; even artists near your age really appreciate it.
One final point: Your jeremiad appeared in the best medium to reach us. According to the Newspaper Association of America, over 60% of newspaper readers are Boomers. Also, 80% of the Fortune 500 CEOs are Boomers and thus have substantial authority over national advertising budgets.
I hope you value the financial support for your bully pulpit.
Five years ago, when I first wrote about the extreme distaste that some opinion leaders harbor for Boomers, there wasn't much awareness or concern among Boomers. As myriad critics keep flinging their barbs, however, I sincerely hope that a greater number of those opposed to ageism and generational stereotyping will help challenge the bashers as they surface.
It's clearly our final social revolution, folks.
By the way, I wrote this blog entry on my way back to Denver from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where I was the keynote speaker for Lancaster Newspapers. They had brought me to the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch country to help their advertisers, actual and prospective, learn how to make more money marketing to Boomers through newspaper advertising.