Last Sunday, I saw an editorial that praised the term “OK Boomer” as something all the Millennials and Gen X, Y, and Z should say. The basic tenet of the piece was that it’s okay to disrespect elders. It’s not a new idea, but it’s never been a good idea.
To echo my grandfather, back in my day, we did things differently. Back then, the differences between generations was called the generation gap, and it was very wide. The elderly didn’t understand us and we didn’t understand them. Those over 30 were not to be trusted.
Fast forward to now, we find the generation gap is still here, only known by a different name. It’s called OK Boomer. The same people who didn’t trust anyone over 30 back in the day are now in their 60s and 70s and don’t trust anyone under 30.
Grandfather’s generation didn’t understand Boomers because they’d been through the hard times during two world wars and the Great Depression. They had flu, smallpox, and polio epidemics. By the time the Boomers came along, life was good. Times were peaceful and prosperous compared to what they’d been through. They didn’t understand why the Boomers rebelled against the old values and old ways.
Today, the younger generations don’t understand what the Boomers went through. We lived through the horrors of the Viet Nam war, the draft for military service, the Civil Rights movement, the beginnings of women’s rights, and the year 1968 with all its turbulent events. By the time the next generation was born, times seemed peaceful and prosperous compared to what we’d been through. Sadly, like the generation before us, we don’t understand the next generation very well or get why they reject all that we worked so hard to establish.
One day, the Millennials and Gen X, Y, and Z will be in the Boomer’s spot, wondering what the generation after them is thinking. They’ll talk about the old days when they had to type commands into a computer or drive a car. They might talk about how there were buildings with merchandise in them that you had to drive to for food and clothes. They may talk about the Iraq war, school shootings, 9/11, and the threat of terrorism. I hope the cycle of peace and prosperity will come around again.
It’s been said that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The older generation still doesn’t understand the younger ones. The generation gap will probably always be around, but over time, changes creep in until nothing from the past is recognizable. I hope the future generations will learn about what came before them. Maybe then they’ll appreciate what we went through.