Hello fellow Baby Boomers! (and those who will share this post with them!)
I'm going off the normal path today because I was just told by a (Boomer) friend that Millennials have screwed up values and are lazy, radical Leftists. This is a guy who rejected his parents "establishment" values back in the 70's, who used to have long hair, was part of the Civil Rights Movement, The Ecology Movement (remember the green & white flags) and well, ahhh how we Baby Boomers have forgotten who we were...
The values and beliefs we Baby Boomers once held as truths need reexamining - especially when understanding younger generations like Gen X and Millennials. Here are 8 myths we need to stop believing:
1. Rethinking the Solo Success Myth: We grew up believing in the self-made success story, the lone wolf conquering the world. But reflecting on my path, I've realized it was never just about my individual effort. Unlike a lot of pop culture personalities and politicians, I can acknowledge the multiple lucky breaks I got along the way. Anyone who claims they’ve achieved great success without some luck, is self-deluded. Period. Did they have an above average IQ? That was lucky! Were they born in the US during it’s greatest economic expansion? That was lucky! I could on ad infinitum.
But it’s a LOT tougher to get a lucky break today and even if you do, it’s ten times tougher to succeed today, than it was a few decades ago. Or do you think the current government is doing so well, that things are rosy?
2. The Evolving Nature of Careers: Our generation often valued lifelong careers with a single company or at least, in one career or profession. Nowadays, that’s a bad career strategy. Companies and law firms that used to take pride in their pensions (remember the Gold Watch), have zero loyalty to their employees and will lay them off at the drop of a hat. So the “value” of loyalty to a company is foolish in today's work environment.
3. Education Beyond the Classroom: I have friends who went to college for four years while making minimum wage. During that time, they bought a car and lived with a roommate in an apartment – in California.
Boomers tend to criticize younger generations for two things:
1. Getting a college degree and the six-figure debt that comes with it; or
2. Not getting a college degree, for which they blame them for the poor wages they receive.
Education and everything else is insanely expensive compared to when we grew up. Wages are insanely lower than we had. Stop blaming younger people for the horrible conditions we Baby Boomers created for them. And yes, we did that.
4. The Diversity of Family Dynamics: The traditional nuclear family was once the standard but now, family structures are as diverse as our society. We have interracial and gay families – which is awesome! We have families that don’t want children. With Climate Change, regular mass murders etc. do you blame them? Of course you do, you’re Boomers! Time to stop judging and start understanding. Families and their goals are different, and that's okay.
5. Redefining Home-ownership: Owning a home used to be the ultimate sign of having “made it”. But the house I lived in was $35,000 and now, that same house cost over $500,000. In Florida, California and Texas (where I live), insurance companies are refusing to insure homes against natural disasters - or they're quadrupling the rates, because of the effects of Climate Change (which is real, grandpa). So no, home ownership isn’t what it used to be. I could easily buy one but yeah, no thanks.
6. Acknowledging Mental Health: No one talked about themselves or their kids going to therapy in our day. Because we didn’t understand the seriousness of mental health and we vilified and ridiculed those who were suffering. Mental health is a serious issue and it’s important. Unfortunately, the only time many Boomers tend to bring up mental health, is immediately after a white male has committed mass murder.
It's time to appreciate how important mental health is, in the workplace and at home.
7. The Value of All Careers & Incomes: Our generation often held white-collar jobs in higher esteem because they paid more. Now (many) Boomers are criticizing younger people for not knowing how to do plumbing or electrician work. Do you know how HARD it is to do that kind of work? My dad was an electrician and after a couple of tries, told me I just didn’t have the aptitude for it. Oh and contrary to what the internet told you, trade schools are expensive!
Finally, there's the belief that the rich are happier and better in every way. Some of the happiest and best people I’ve met, did not have high incomes. The preacher who took me off the streets when I was homeless, is a fine example of one. Some of the most disgusting people I’ve met, were ultra-wealthy We all know examples of such types. It's time to stop worshiping the rich, simply because they're rich.
8. Socialism Isn’t Socialism Anymore. Words evolve. When we said something was “cool” it had nothing to do with temperature. “Literally” now literally means, “not literally”. Crash doesn’t apply only to cars. And Socialism has NOTHING to do with Russia, China or all the things we were taught were so evil, in our youth.
Socialism now means “Any program provided by tax dollars to enrich and benefit the general populace”. For example, that Socialist Security check you cash or that Socialist MediCare you enjoy. Those roads you drive on, the police & fire fighters are all “Socialism” now. Socialism means providing good stuff to the citizens in exchange for their tax dollars. We’re just not very good at it, here in the US.
In conclusion, my fellow Boomers, it's time to tune into the new realities of the world. Our experiences were valuable, but they just don’t apply to the harsh realities of today’s world. Anyone with even the lowest of IQ’s, can criticize and blame the younger generations - like our parents did with us.
What we really need to do, is empathize with younger generations. Help them. Mentor them. And yes, we can probably sneak in some things like Positive Thinking, Clearly Defined Goals and even Led Zeppelin!
Frederick Shelton is the CEO of Shelton & Steele and like his Anti-Millennial Daughter, he is an Anti-Baby Boomer father.