By Ranting Panda
16 November 2019
"The denunciation of the young is a necessary part of the hygiene of older people, and greatly assists in the circulation of their blood" ... thus speaketh, British critic, Logan Pearsall Smith, in his 1931 work, Afterthoughts: Life and Human Nature.
While Logan Pearsall Smith was more of an essayist than hematologist, he was definitely on the money. In every generation, the oldies gang up on the younger ones and blame them for the ills of the world. Even the ancient Egyptians did their nuts over the younger generations, with this pithy observation inscribed in a 6,000 year old Egyptian tomb: 'We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient. They frequently inhabit taverns and have no self-control'.
There is an irony in criticising younger generations, because they are the product of their upbringing.
Funnily enough, today's younger generations are calling out the older generations with two simple words ... no, not THOSE two words ... something far more dismissive: 'OK BOOMER!'.
For example, Baby Boomer makes fun of younger generations wanting to change the world, by saying, 'you can't even change a light bulb' - OK BOOMER!
Baby Boomer makes fun of younger generations wanting to start a revolution, by saying, 'you can't even start a lawn mower' - OK BOOMER!
Baby Boomer (who worked in non-scientific job all their life) makes fun of younger generations daring to believe the science of climate change, by saying, 'it got hot in the 70s too, you know!' - OK BOOMER!. (Because bank johnny's, tradies, farmers, salespeople, etc etc, know more about climate science than actual physicists who've studied actual science ... but hey, here we are!).
Baby Boomer criticises the younger generation for being unemployed and university-educated, 'you should do a stint in the Army, that'll make you grow up!' - OK BOOMER!
Now, just to set a few things straight. I recently saw a Millenial criticising Boomers for lumping Gen Zs (post-Millenials) in with Millenials. Yet many of the people who Millenials and post-Millenials are throwing the OK Boomer comment at, are in fact the Silent Generation, who came before the Baby Boomers, or Gen Xs who came after the Boomers. OK MILLENIAL! Chill the Fanackapanning Doylums out and get your generational thresholds clear too! So that everyone is on the same page, these are the years generally used for labelling the generations:
Interbellum Generation - 1901-1913
Greatest Generation - 1910-1924
Silent Generation - 1925-1945
Baby Boomers - 1946-1964
Generation X - 1965-1980
Millennials (Generation Y) - 1981-1996
Post-Millennials (Generation Z) - 1997-Present
For clarity, I'll be referring to Gen X, Boomers and Silent Gen as being 'older people'. While I'll refer to Millennials and Post-Millennials as being 'younger people'.
Older people often accuse younger people of being rude and lacking manners, yet older people will often be quite rude in expecting, nay, demanding, respect, while speaking abysmally to younger people. Older people will criticise all manner of people who make them feel uncomfortable, such as refugees, the homeless, activists, LGBTIQ people. They will criticise young people for their music and fashion. AND THEN, they will wonder why younger people are so critical of older people. I wonder where they learned to be so critical of, and rude towards, other people.
It seems that as people grow older, they generally become more conservative and less tolerant. This plays out in the insults that they throw around, usually at younger people, such as 'woke', 'do-gooder', 'social justice warrior', 'greenie', 'leftie', 'virtue signalling'.
Well, I'd rather people be woke than wack. I'd rather they be do-gooders, than do-nothings. I'd rather they be social justice warriors concerned for the rights of others, than selfish psychopathic individualists who care nothing about the suffering of others. I'd rather they be greenies, than environmental vandals. I'd rather they be lefties sharing the wealth, than greedy capitalists hoarding wealth while others die in poverty. I'd rather they signal virtue to others, than normalise hate and intolerance.
This quaint little meme has been doing the rounds on social media for several years:
Kids of today did not invent modern-day capitalism that has resulted in rampant consumerism driven by an insatiable demand for excessive and unethical profits. It was the older generations who created this, and it is mainly the older generations who are shareholders demanding greater returns on their investments with scant regard for human rights or the environment. Do the older generations chasing these exorbitant monetary gains care that much of this profit is being created through modern slavery and highly exploitative situations, not just in low-wage countries, but even in OECD countries? Do they give a flying ferret that their investments and profits are driving the destruction of the environment and animal habitats to obtain resources for manufacturing the latest electronic product, while marketing said product as the next big thing and that any previous model (while still working perfectly) is now obsolete ... perceived obsolence drives consumerism and is a significant contributor to waste generation, throw-away mentality and resource consumption. But hey, get angry with the school kids who are smart enough to call out how unsustainable this is.
So that meme ... another fun fact ... back in the 60s, the 'Generation Gap' was a real issue being debated with monotonous regularity. This was the concept that the younger generation (mostly baby boomers) were rebelling against everything their parents stood for. Remember this? The 60s was the protest era! Baby Boomers created mass social upheaval and were a generation of young people who challenged societal norms that previous generations had accepted and embraced, such as war, racism, sexism, segregation and environmental destruction. They protested for peace, women's liberation, racial equality, and environmental protection. This was a generation that embraced the Timothy Leary approach to life: 'Turn on, tune in and drop out'. They experimented with mind-altering substances in a manner that their parents had never done. But now, many have issue with young people for turning on, turning in and getting involved, rather than dropping out.
|Boomers - before they forgot how to be cool!|
Baby Boomers have forgotten how to be cool. They've forgotten that it was their generation that set the standard for large-scale, global protest movements which changed the world for the better. Why then, do they pick on today's young ones who are also seeking to change the world for the better.
It's understandable though. Generational wars have carried on throughout history. From way back in the day when Adam was a boy and Eve was a girl and God did his divine nut to expel them from the Garden of Eden because they wouldn't do what they were told.
Back in the day around 2400 years ago, there was this philosopher dude named Plato who tyrannised the young 'uns of ancient Greece. Plato gave them a spray with this little gem, 'What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?' Yes, what indeed, Plato ol' mate! Plato wasn't the only one who made comments of this nature ... it is a persistent theme threading its way through history.
This tyrannising of the young by the older generations is a portend of the future under Gen Ys and Zs. Because sadly, sooner than they expect, it is them who will be tyrannising the next generations, regaling them with tales of how they always respected older people and obeyed their parents, painting their generation as angels and looking back on their younger years through rose-coloured glasses.
Seventeenth century poet & politician, Joseph Addison cautioned about this, 'He who would pass his declining years with honor and comfort, should when young, consider that he may one day become old, and when he is old, that he has once been young'. Wise words, which most of us forget about ... unless one is 'woke'.
Perhaps John Dryden, a 17th century Poet Laureate, was one of the most woke when he identified the key driver behind the older generations' judgement of the younger ones:
'The most aggravating thing about the younger generation is that I no longer belong to it'.
Dryden wasn't the only woke oldie. Twentieth-century writer, John Boynton Priestley was full of lamentation: 'When I was young there was no respect for the young, and now that I am old, there is no respect for the old. I missed out coming and going'.
But the most woke of all boomers, Douglas Adams (who penned the revelatory Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), got it:
'Anything invented before your 15th birthday is the order of nature. That's how it should be. Anything invented between your 15th and 35th birthday is new and exciting, and you might get a career there. Anything invented after that day, however, is against nature and should be prohibited'.