Just responding to a zeitgeist thing really in this post – it’s not about brand or marketing or social media or tech or feminism (my usual hobby horses) but more about a societal attitude bubbling under. To whit – that our parents’ generation are a bunch of selfish, greedy, ineffective, ignorant and irresponsible citizens who are about to suck us dry of money as we increasingly have to support them into their infirm old age while they take cruises and lord it up in mansions.
Here’s a post that outlines the argument http://rubypseudochatchat.blogspot.com/2010/07/dear-mrs-bennett-actually.html. It’s even been put into book form by Neil Boorman and Francis Beckett.
It’s certainly true that the generation above us has had it good and has done some pretty selfish things with regards to for instance free university education, school meals, national debt etc. But other arguments for blame that have been laid at their door are just plain ignorant. To blame them, for instance, for the mess the environment is in when a) they were ignorant for a large majority of their life that they were even doing anything and b) we are all still running around charging our computers, flying overseas twice a year and getting plums flown in from Chile is to be playing a blinkered blame game. To blame them for being rich is just futile, they were born into a perfect storm. And it’s not like we in the West aren’t rich anyway. Can I borrow your my iPhone?
Boorman starts his Explainer with the following text
“GRADUATES JOIN THE DOLE QUEUE AS THEIR PARENTS RETIRE ON COSY NEST EGGS.
FIRST TIME BUYERS STRUGGLE TO PAY MORTGAGES ON SHOE-BOXES AS THE OLDER GENERATION KICK BACK IN COUNTRY PILES.”
Hmmm, anyone here aged 38 – 33? Did you walk straight out of university into a job? Or did you like me have to spend a year on the dole making application after application along with all your mates? Did you hop skip and jump into your first house? Or did you have to save up and wonder whether you would ever have enough for a 25% deposit.
By Boorman’s reckoning my problems on graduation shouldn’t be blamed on the boomers but on the generation above them – which makes the boomers not one of a kind ogres of ignorance but potentially part of a pattern.
And you would have to be simpleton to believe that it’s the boomers alone who have caused the environmental crisis – we’re still causing it now, it’s global, “boomers” in this country are not the same as that generation is in China for instance.
The Boomer generation broke through many of the social barriers and restrictions that we take for granted – how’s your sex life by the way? Take the pill much? Female – want a management job? Are you one of two or three children? Do you appreciate that by focusing on having less offspring that generation were able to spoil you more?
The new criticism ignores the positive in favour of the negative – tempting to do since the Boomers are undoubtedly guilty of lionisng their own iconoclasm. But it’s small-minded and dangerous. The blame game is easy, it absolves us of all responsibility and it explains why things are the way they are in nice easy-to-understand terms which is particularly tempting for the generation coming up behind who have seen nothing but bounty and joy emanating from the systems that the boomers put in place and believed it would go on forever. Until now.
Maybe the boomers are only reaping what they sowed – they really believe that money makes the world go round even if you have to borrow it. And having absorbed that at the breast we are now seeing the other side of the coin – money doesn’t come for free, someone has to pay. No wonder the vitriol – money is our everything and we are having to give it away.
But money doesn’t make the world go round, it just oils some wheels. If we succumb to blaming and victimising them then we’re as bad as they are. We need to find new ways to nurture a positive society that’s more balanced. That’s our chance to change the UK, we shouldn’t let it die in a bath of acid.