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What We're Following Today

I took yesterday off (although I doubt many people noticed), but I do want to live up to my personal commitment to post something each weekday. But I was gen bridging myself out helping my parents to do some heavy lifting / yard work. While I’m able I want to provide help where I can - I wish I lived closer and could do more, but I do enjoy seeing my parents and appreciating them more and more. Thankfully my body can still lift things up and put them down, and thankfully my stepfather has a great tractor that can do a lot of the big stuff. But I also recognize my place around equipment I don’t really use or know much about, so I make sure to defer to my stepfather and know that if I do that, I am much less likely to get hurt.

Nonetheless, it felt good to visit, hear what’s happening and feel useful. When I got the call today about how much my little bit of help meant, it meant the world to me. I hope they understand how much it means to me to be asked :)

Have You Heard the Term “OK Boomer”????

Now I’m going to rant and then go do something to calm down. I saw a headline from a New Zealand legislator who dismissed a heckler by saying “OK Boomer”. Now at the individual situational level, she was likely justified to heckle back…but where are the clever retorts that people once used? I investigated this terminology a bit more and apparently this is a common term that younger people use to dismiss older people who they deem uninformed…

Yes, this is a sensitive area for me because of the Generation Bridge platform which seeks to to drop generational labels and get back at individual connection, debate and respect. Stereotyping isn’t inherently evil, but it does usually have evil outcomes…as an analyst I do look for patterns and it is “important” to recognize statistical differences on behaviors, traits, etc. BUT you need to discipline yourself to use that data and information carefully and apply it even more carefully because there are seldom any situations where a community / group or stereotype meet the patterns unanimously - so take a step back and try to approach a person or conversation individually and let that person live up to expectations or surprise you…

We know how stereotypes on gender, race, ethnic background, religion, etc. can lead to extremely dangerous behaviors and outcomes - so we are vigilant when identifying and combatting these. But one trait we all share across the spectrum of characteristics is age. We all either get older or we don’t…For some reason, we do tolerate ageism a bit more in this country. How many times do we have to defend millennials for being incorrectly categorized as “xxx” or “yyy”? Or incorrectly dismissed as “snowflakes”?

There are patterns of differences but they don’t often support the negative stereotypes that are associated with the label. Boomers aren’t the only reason for negative outcomes in our world (this world “we” are “inheriting”), and interpretations of negative outcomes can vary drastically as we live in a world that faces many challenges but also is richer and more successful than in any time in the past. Poverty worldwide is not “extinct” but it has never been this low either.

We live in a world where we have the luxury of time and access to pursue intellectual exercises. That didn’t happen overnight. Can you imagine a world 100 years ago where people were struggling to put food in their mouths here in the US? Some estimates for the poverty rate in the US during the Great Depression at the end of the 1920’s are as high as 50%. Today and for the last 20 or so years that value has been 11-15%. What would your life be like if you were struggling to stay fed or keep your family together?

Much of that progress happened during the years leading up to and after World War II and then throughout the 50’s and beyond. Let’s look at technology and science…world hunger since 1970 almost cut in half, access to information and communication - sharing of ideas, etc. But it’s not popular to have a conversation about the good AND the bad anymore. It’s just easier to be a critic and look backward on negatives rather than value opportunities for redemption and opportunities that few others around the world OR in the US have ever had before. If we say Boomers are at fault for the path we’re on for climate change, does that mean they can’t can’t take credit for improving the quality of life of humans in the same time frame? Plus, what are we doing TODAY to truly reduce our footprints as we consume more and more energy, expect convenience, etc.?

I love debate, and I love the ability for people to explain their points of view and try to convince someone who may believe something different. Sometimes that conversion happens and sometimes it doesn’t. When we sit down and talk as individuals we usually have civil disagreement - WHY can’t we do this at a public level? Why is it ALL people who think this way are THIS. And ALL People who look like this are THAT…? Why is THAT our crutch when we enter into public discourse on Social Media or in the Media in general?

I bring this up because as I was looking up this “OK Boomer” dismissal - basically taking a person’s entire life of decisions, learning and wisdom and DISMISSING them in two words that take NOTHING into consideration, I came across a recent feud between William Shatner and some younger people on Twitter. I’ll admit that I am a big William Shatner fan and I think he does a great job in this little Twitter war to call out many people who are quick to dismiss his opinion with no basis OTHER than his age - I disagree with you and I don’t need to justify it because you are just old and ignorant. Ironic thing is that Shatner isn’t actually a boomer…

The post on Fox News should share some of the blame because they are reporting this as generation versus generation (millennials versus boomers). Shatner calls out “millennials” in the twitter feud and dismisses their generation as well, but I will say that he seemed to call out some things that warrant conversation like the quickness to blame others that we have within us. It pours gas on the fire…

This is not a generational fault, but a human fault and it’s why we need to create more intergenerational events / content that extols the virtues of learning from “each other”. The fact of the matter is that we have the ability to change and adapt our situations no matter where we are in our lives. We also need to understand that while barriers exist for all of us, it is within us all to be able to get over those barriers. Once we focus on why we can’t succeed, we’ll never do the things we need to do TO succeed.

Stereotyping informs lots of bad decisions. Grouping people into convenient “others” does not work to lift people up, it just works to keep people in a place and improve one’s self image. We’d be good to remember some important lessons that humans have learned over the millennia…

”Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:31

But it’s not just Christianity that addresses this - here’s a link (click here) to other denominational views of a similar view on best practices for human interaction - what happens when we fail to learn from our pasts?

We should all hope to grow old someday - be careful of the example you set today for tomorrow’s youth will be tasked to care for you…

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