Boomer Humor? Maybe not…

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Yesterday, I received an e-mail newsletter from BOOMERING_jaLouthain that said the following:

A few weeks ago, I was watching an episode of that crazy TV show Boston Legal. The law firm, Crane, Poole & Schmidt, was defending a radio “shock jock”. He wasn’t a very young man, maybe in his late 30s, and he had made a statement on the air that old folks (like Boomers) should “just die” before they cost the nation so much in social security benefits and medical expenses. The radio station had fired him because he offended much of their listening audience which was in the Baby Boomer category. Shirley Schmidt, (aka, Candice Bergen, the quintessential Boomer, born in 1946) defended him and he won, because the radio station hired him to shock and that’s what he’d done.

Despite the fact that I totally believe in freedom of speech, I was shocked–shocked to think that he had a point. Boomers have always been the darlings of society–pampered, educated, admired, envied, even patronized. But now we’re just old folks like every other generation before us.

You audacious Generations Xers, Yers, XXLers, and Zers! Have you so quickly forgotten that we’ve given you the Internet, video games, remarkable health care, excellent working conditions and infinite electronic and satellite capabilities? Now that we’re old and retiring, you just want us gone?

It’s true, we will put a tremendous drain on Social Security and Medicare, there’s no question of that. And don’t expect medical and insurance costs to go down until the last one of us is a flower child in heaven. But have a heart, “Younguns,” we still have feelings, and we hope to have a lot more years to live as your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. And don’t forget the most important aspect of all this: Someday you TOO will be old.

While this is being said in a tongue-in-cheek way, after the things that I have been reading in cyberspace, the comments here have a sting to them. I’m particularly bothered by the comment of the “things” that we have given as well as the comment that both, Social Security and Medicare will be nearly depleted. In all honesty, I’m not sure what to say or how to react. While a baby boomer will find it funny, the fact that we also brought a lot of pain to our children cannot be dismissed. Many of the articles and blogs that I’ve read speak of the pain caused by broken homes as a result of divorce. Other articles ask what will be left for them after we are done using up Social Security and Medicare and who is going to be left footing the bill.

I think that it is time for the Baby Boomers to look at the Generation X’s square in the face and say “I’m sorry.” Beyond that, I think it is time for the baby boomers to stop and listen to what the Gen. X’es have to say – they are , after all, our children.

Your turn to talk – What do you think?

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Generation Y – Do they really hate authority?

angry gen yThis article is a follow-up to Generation Y – Are they really as bad as we say they are? The information age and the information economy has flattened out the structure and hierarchy of organizations.  Gen Y is intimately in tune with this and, since they grew up into it, it is second nature to them.  The rest of us, the baby boomers and Generation X are definitely not there – we are in a different world from them.  One of the things that I am constantly seeing in the blogs and articles that I read about Generation Y is that they are constantly connected.  This is an important piece of information when trying to understand the “Gen Y’s” in My Generation – take two:

Generation Y is known to be able to multitask effectively. They also like to be constantly connected. So of course they are seen to be on the phones and instant messaging clients constantly, sending text messages, checking websites, etc. GenYers are information addicts. They’re used to knowing everything immediately and can quite happily be updated on several different topics while doing their job at the same time. They think, if I can still stay informed, and get my job done at the same time, then what’s the harm? Baby boomers come from an age of letters and newspapers. They don’t understand this information addiction, it’s like trying to do your job while reading a newspaper at the same time. So when GenYers are staying connected, baby boomers think they’re slacking off. Hey, admittedly, a lot of them probably are slacking off some of the time. But most of them are used to dealing with huge amounts of information at a time from several sources, and if they have to focus on one task at a time then they’re likely to get bored.

This is a very insightful and accurate description.  The information revolution, like the Industrial revolution before it, is completely changing how we relate to the world and each other.  For Gen Y’s, they have literally extended their lives to include cyberspace; for them relating in cyberspace is as normal and natural as breathing.  I imagine that they must feel very annoyed at having to explain to the rest of us what, to them, is something that is very obvious and natural.  Here is the thing that we, the Baby Boomers and the Generation X’s need to understand – the Internet has become the great equalizer.  Information is no longer the purview of a privileged few; the cat is very much out of the bag and information has been democratized.  This is what the Gen Y has to say about this (also from the ( My Generation – take two ) article:

Generation Y is said to have a problem with authority. This is probably true to an extent, but I believe it is more of a problem with respect. These days complete strangers will call you up on the phone and start chatting to you like they already know you. Back in the baby boomer days they were all about “sir” and “madam” and they’d address you by your surname, like “Mrs Jones” or “Mr Parker”. These days it’s all about “What’s your name? Robert Johnson? Well Rob, I’d like to talk to you about this amazing deal on cable television…” Everyone treats you like a peer. So Generation Y treats everyone like a peer. I think part of the problem is that GenX and baby boomers only see one side of it, they just see some young upstarts treating them like they’re on the same level before they’ve earned it. What they don’t see is Generation Y treating their subordinates like equals too. It’s not that they have no respect for authority, it’s just that everyone is the same to them and nobody is better than anyone else.

Although insightful, I don’t think the author goes far enough in explaining the authority situation of Generation Y.  While the paragraph above is correct, the basic issue is not authority per se but, something more fundamental and powerful enough to change a society, a culture and a civilization.  What is happening here is nothing less than a re-definition of what is authority and just how is authority derived.  Let’s define  authority in this way: it is our personal, individual willingness to submit.  In the information age, the “coin of exchange” is information and whomever has the must up-to-date, the most insightful information has the most amount of “coin” and Gen Y’s understand and respect this.  The underlying reality is that Gen Y’s do respect authority but, in their world, the one who is in authority is something that is very fluid.  Gen Y’s understand at a very gut and instinctive level that submitting to authority is their choice and under their control – this is a direct result of the information age.

Information is the most elemental part of any society but, it is how we process this information that makes it useful.  It is that “we” that is important because Gen Y’s do this instinctively and at the speed of the Internet.  Their perspective is this – all information has the same value and, by extension, all information givers have the same value.  It is only after “I” make some choices about the information that it will acquire additional value for me.  Gen Y’s take this empowerment process and project it to every aspect of their lives.

For us Baby Boomers and Generation X’s, it behooves us to understand this if we want to help them to sort out the difficulties of life.

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Generation Y – Are they really as bad as we say they are?

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In my blog A TIME OF PONDERING – A TIME OF RECKONING I comment on the level of resentment towards baby boomers that I’ve found in the blogosphere. In that post I mentioned that I had no clue that generation X’ers as well as Generation Y’ers resented us so. I am fairly intrigued by this and as I dig deeper into these attitudes, I’m finding that the resentment seems to go in both directions. In the blog Generation Y, the author (kfulljames) lays out fairly clearly some of the reasons for the attitudes and beliefs of the “Gen Y’s” and Steve Olson in his article A Message to Baby Boomers and Generation X puts the responsibility of the attitudes of Generation Y squarely in the shoulders of the Baby Boomers and the Generation X.

As I read the ‘Generation Y’ article, I can’t help but think that these kids have a point! First, the “loyalty” that we are talking about is very much present in Generation Y – the difference is that they invest their loyalty in those things and people that will be in their lives for the long run. From what I could gather in the articles, it looks like for Generation Y loyalty is given first and foremost to the family. That loyalty extends itself to a very old saying, “to thy own self be true.” In their minds, being true to themselves encompasses the workplace and the value they bring to the business.

Generation Y rightly states that they grew up seeing how the loyalty given to the business institution was rewarded by lay-offs, by sending the jobs over to another country, by raiding the retirement funds and depleting them. In other words, the business institutions expect the individual to be loyal to them but they do not give any loyalty in return beyond the paycheck of the latest pay period. We are the ones that need to understand that Generation Y is the spearhead generation of the information age and the information economy. They are doing what our great-great-grandparents did when the industrial revolution got into full swing – they are creating! Generation Y talks in terms of being a contractor rather than an employee, having multiple income streams rather than one company paycheck; forgive me for pointing out the obvious but, isn’t this what we usually call entrepreneurial spirit?

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WHAT HAPPENED THE YEAR YOU GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL? – BLOG YOUR DASH PART IV

This is another installment of “BLOG YOUR DASH” – by now I guess I should star calling it a “series” since this is part four and it looks like there may be more to come. If you want to read the other installments of BLOG YOUR DASH, here is the list:

      To check on the events of any given year, I go to Brainy History and select the year that I want.


      Here is a short list of the things that happened the year I graduated from high school:

      1. Roberto Clemente gets his 3,oooth hit
      2. 1st scientific hand-held calculator, the HP-35, introduced for $395
      3. 1st NBA to score 30,000 points (Wilt Chamberlain in 940 games)
      4. 30,000 attend Mar Y Sol rock concert, Vega Baja, Puerto Rico
      5. George Wallace shot and left paralyzed by Arthur Bremer in Laurel, Maryland
      6. Chile president Allende forms new government
      7. Bobby Fischer (U.S.) defeats Boris Spassky (U.S.S.R.) for world chess title
      8. Summer Olympics resume in Munich Germany after massacre
      9. President Nixon (R) re-elected defeating George McGovern (D)

      There’s a lot to talk about here so bear with me. I’m from Puerto Rico so things that happen there or to people from there are important to me.

      Roberto ClementeTo this day, Roberto Clemente is a hero in Puerto Rico; he was black as coal, from a poor family and had difficulty speaking English but, he elevated the sport of professional baseball to an art form. I remember him wearing the #21 from the Pittsburgh Pirates making these unbelievable catches and always playing his best when he felt at his worst. Roberto always complained about chronic lower back pain but, the worse he felt, the better he played.

      I only vaguely remember his 3,000th hit but, what I remember vividly was the day he died. When he has not playing ball, Roberto was doing charity work and in December, there had been a large and serious earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua. He organized a drive for food, clothes, blankets and such to send there and, from his own pocket, paid for an airplane to take him and the cargo to Nicaragua. On December 31, 1972 the overloaded plane crashed into the sea just after takeoff – Roberto’s body was never found.

      HP-35 Electronic Calculator The first time I saw the HP-35 was in my first year of college. I had heard about “electronic calculators” but, up to that point, never seen one. What we used to do calculations was our trusty old-timer, the slide rule. The slide rule has always been a ‘best guesstimate’ kind of tool and there were even competitions to see how close to an actual calculation result result you could get. For example, what is the most accurate result of π times e (3.1416 times 2.7182) to 6 decimal places? Then along comes this ‘calculator’ that gives an answer accurate to eight decimal places, all you had to do to get this kind of accuracy was shell out four hundred dollars! To give you an idea of what four hundred dollars meant in 1972, a brand new VW Beetle was $1,845.00.

      Richard NixonRafael Hernandez Colón

      1972 was the year that the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 and, lucky me, I was going to get to vote for the first time! Of course the local politicos forced me to show my voting registration card, my birth certificate and my parents had to vouch for me because my 18th birthday happened to be on election day. While Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, it cannot participate in the federal elections; however, we do have local elections on the same date as the U.S. Presidential election.

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      A TIME OF PONDERING – A TIME OF RECKONING

      Dennis Prager, one of America’s most respected thinkers, wrote wrote an article in Jewish World Review titled Baby Boomers owe America’s young people an apology. This article is a group apology for what we Baby Boomers have put the younger generation(s) – our children – through. In his blog, Dennis Prager, Baby Boomers, and the Signpost to Hell, Ben Bateman adds divorce to the list of things that we should apologize for. To be sure, both articles make for interesting reading and gives much food for thought. I admit that I am fairly new to blogging and when I surf the web for ideas to blog about, I am amazed at the amount of resentment I see towards the baby boomers by the younger generations.

      You can see an example of this resentment in Boomers set to retire; the rest of us set to hear about it. Check out the reformated art on the AARP magazine cover and, what is most telling – the ‘Filed under’ categories (Filed under:Baby Boomers, We’re so sick of you, please die). At first, I thought that I had just stumbled upon a small group of disaffected youngsters but, as I have continued to surf about Baby Boomers, it is clear that this feeling is quite pervasive and I am sorry to say that I had no clue at all! As I ask myself what does all this mean to me, I realize that I have children in their twenties and thirties and I don’t really know if they resent me for being a baby boomer. Even if it is right, it is still a very sobering thought to realize that your whole generation is resented and blamed for many of the social problems we have today.

      I’m a guy, and as a guy, my brain is screaming “What do I do?! I gotta fix it! How do I fix it?!” The truth is, the more I think about this, the more it resonates within me. My sense is that more than being selfish, immature and not wanting to grow up; the resentment speaks to something deeper and more fundamental. Each generation has a duty and a responsibility to pass on a legacy to the next generation; more than just a legacy, it is a covenant between generations, between parents and children. The resentment may very well be the younger generation’s way of trying to tell us that they feel that we have broken covenant with them and left them to fend for themselves.

      If this is the case, we owe them more than just an apology, we owe them the relationship that they had a right to expect from us and we never gave them. We owe them the moral plumb-line that we were supposed to be for them and they never had or never saw in us. We owe them the love they had a right to expect simply for being our children and the next generation. In one word, we owe them ourselves.

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      For parents and grandparents – The Easy-Bake Oven recall

      Grandparenting Today – Easy-Bake Oven could mean trouble for your Grandchild: Find out why. This is an article I read in the 55-Alive web site. At first, I did not pay much attention to it; for me, it was just another toy recall.

      This morning, just as I was about to leave for work, I saw it – the Easy Bake Oven box. It was right there in my granddaughters toy cupboard and the sight of it stopped me cold. I remembered the article and then my mind took over in all kinds of scenarios, none of them nice or pleasant. The article talks about several children that got second and third-degree burns due to the toy. Here is the nightmare scenario that sent chills down my spine.

      Suppose that your child or grandchild gets hurt as a result of that toy. You then, would probably take her to the hospital emergency room. As she is being treated, the doctor has to make a determination. That determination is whether the child has been the victim of child abuse. You see, medical personnel are required by law to report suspected child abuse cases and one of the more common injuries in those cases is – second and third degree burns.

      The medical personnel can believe you but, be bound by professional ethics as well as hospital policy to “play it safe” and contact Child Protective Services. Depending on the situation, whether they believe you or not, they may have no option but to report. Once Child Protective Services is involved, we are talking about the very real possibility of losing custody of your children or grandchildren.

      The sad thing about this is that, in this day and age, we can no longer discard this as an over-the-top alarmist scenario. Find those toys and make sure they are safe before they hurt your loved ones!


      What do you think?
      Does your child or grandchild have an Easy Bake Oven?
      If so, what did you do with it?
      Have you talked to a friend or loved one about the recall?
      What was their reaction?

      Blended Families – a boomer phenomenon

      I wrote an article on boomers and divorce and one of the things that has been in the back of my mind is, what happens when you re-marry?  A 50% divorce rate is nothing to sneeze at – quite literally it is like putting your future on the line based on the flip of a coin.  For those of us who are part of that statistic, the number does not even begin to describe the almost unimaginable pain of a divorce, and yet….

      And yet, many boomers try again at forming a family and a marriage relationship.  Many times the second marriage brings with it children from the prior marriage and, with that, comes a unique set circumstances and issues that no other generation previously had experienced.  These relationships are usually called “blended families.”  Helpguide.org has a very good article on blended families / stepfamilies that can serve anyone as primer in what to expect in a blended family.

      While the 50% divorce rate is amazing in itself, what really amazes me is the underlying desire, like an unstoppable force, to build the relationships in spite of the incredibly treacherous waters that a “blended family” represents.  While the divorce rate is not something we should be proud of, the incredible tenacity that we are demonstrating with our willingness to go at it again in even more complex circumstances is something to be proud of.  To be sure, there will be those who choose not to re-marry and those who decide that the price to pay is too high.

      I don’t think we should or can underestimate what is happening.  This spontaneous social experiment is a tribute to our willingness to form lasting relationships “come hell or high water.”  At stake is nothing less than the re-definition of marriage, family and the meaning of relationship itself.  This experiment will completely change our country and the world.

      As you may have noticed, I have used the future tense concerning the re-definition of marriage and family.  I believe that we are nowhere near the end of the process but, rather, at the very beginning of it.  So far, what we have done is to define the problem. What should be the answer or answers to the problem is yet to be defined but, as boomers and pioneers in this social experiment, I think that we have established the underlying foundation from which “the new” will be built.  This foundation is based on the desire for long-term lasting relationships and the willingness to hang on to them with fierce tenacity!


      Are you a parent in a blended family?  How do you deal with the non-custodial parents?  Are you in a situation where you are trying to love someone who does not want to love you?  Were you a child of a blended family?  How was your life like?