Boomer Rants: Part Dieu, by Cliff Mazer, Ph.D.
I dont really care what famous people like Tom Brokaw, Alan Rosenberg or Morgan Fairchild have to say about Baby Boomers. Sure, there are some undeniable truths and pithy observations to be made in various PBS specials and television programs that aim to define this noteworthy generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) of which I am a proud member.
However, several important less publicized facts remain: 1) Baby Boomers, in general, dont particularly like being called Baby Boomers all that much. We know what it means sociologically and demographically, but too often it makes us sound like two things we dont see ourselves as: people getting older and being characterized as “homogeneous”. Homosexual is just fine and so are descriptions like “young at heart” but homogeneous, as in “all alike” and not unique is a total bummer.
2) Not only do Boomers not appreciate efforts by the media or various celebrities to typecast our place in history (either as naive idealistic fools or as game changers as far as music, sex, drugs, and societal values/ morality are concerned) but such broad brush strokes and generalizations often dont apply.
To be sure, Woodstock was a defining musical event and the 1967 Summer of Love in San Francisco did capture the essence of a certain cultural imperative and movement for social change, but many of us either plain missed it, caught only the tail end, or more striking, were simply not inclined to do as Timothy Leary suggested by “tuning in, turning on and dropping out.” Furthermore, older Baby Boomers and younger ones bear relatively few similarities and display rather significant differences. Think about it. Kids born in 1946 are pretty obviously different from people born in 1963. They danced to music as wildly disparate as the Platters or Bobby Vinton versus The Bee Gees and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
Mid-generation Boomers, such as myself, born in 1953, epitomize more of the stereotypical Rock and Roll turned hippie turned disenchanted investment banker (or psychologist) trajectory….while still clinging to an annoying social conscience and latent fantasies about tropical islands and Utopian communities (with nice amenities of course). The older Boomers are generally less spoiled and narcissistic and felt blessed to just survive the War in Viet Nam. They lived through the historic events comically portrayed in the movie Forrest Gump. The younger generation of Baby Boomers, in contrast, know how to use their iPhones and digital devices instinctively. Baby baby boomers grew up watching the Breakfast Club and personally related to the Brat Pack “coming of age” movies in the 1980s. Collectively, all of us spoiled the crap out of our kids, got our butts kicked by the lousy economy and are fully responsible for the latest wave of teenagers and young adults who have over-sized, unusually dexterous thumbs, text each other constantly, cannot sustain a real conversation and immediately call a plumber when the toilet clogs, even just a little bit.
In retrospect, not many of us Baby Boomers, whether older or younger, were smart or prescient enough to actually consider becoming a licensed plumber who by now would have OWNED his/her own tropical island with off the grid solar energy, high tech Japanese toilets AND a well-stocked Tiki Bar. We also know we cant go back. We realize we should have bought land, any land, and especially wish we had kept our vintage toys. On the other hand, who could blame us for not knowing to keep the “mint condition” boxes they came in too? They dont call it hindsight for nothing. If there is anything every Baby Boomer has in common, it’s hindsight vision and the urge to kick ourselves for all the stuff we tossed out that is now worth a small FORTUNE. However, we dont regret all the relatively worthless cultural debris, ie. old menus, old photos, old roach clips, and Presidential campaign buttons, etc. we insist on keeping in our dresser drawers both to remind us of all the fun we had as well as what very special and unique people we are.
Cliff Mazer, Ph.D. is a licensed Clinical Psychologist living in Atlanta Georgia. He writes a boomer related blog under the psuedonym CaptainCliff at https://captaincliff.wordpress.com/
and he has an inexplicable love of all things Pirate. Contact: 404-932-7193