Why Millennials and Gen Z Hate BoomersMay 03, 2023
Lazy, entitled, stupid, selfish, dumb, crazy, lost, ignorant, spoiled, mean, sensitive, snowflake, annoying, fucked up, and so on. This is how Millennials and Gen Z-ers say they are routinely described, according to SUNY psychologist Karla Vermeulen, author of the new book "Generation Disaster: Coming of Age Post 9-11." Who can blame them for being angry? One of the quotes I use was someone who said, "I feel like our generation got a bill for a party we couldn't make it to." So this is really one of the main sources of anger in the older generation. Boomers in particular. Younger Americans have been taught to believe that their leaders lie about everything, that the entire financial system existed to bail out the big banks when the economy collapsed, that endless war is the natural state of things, and that they were about to be blown up by terrorists or shot during school at any time.
I have a chapter in the book called Lockdown Drills in Kindergarten. They have literally had these drills in the same way that we had fire drills. Vermeulen's book looks specifically at people born between 1990 and 2001, but her conclusions are broadly relevant to people under 40. She says that her fears are mostly exaggerated. Our focus on statistically rare events, like school shootings, has triggered depression, anxiety, and resentment. The psychological effect of participating in these drills for young children and children who write wills to their parents and think they are literally going to die. And it's theater of safety, the disproportionate attention and resources that go into preventing these highly unlikely events relative to the more direct mental health stressors that kids are actually dealing with.
But the biggest driver of the stress and anger in Generation Disaster, says Vermeulen, are the narratives about how climate change is about to destroy the planet in the very near future. The world will end in 12 years if we don't address climate change. Whether you think it's over the top or not, this is the message they've been getting and this is definitely the biggest source of anxiety for them. She would say that school shootings are the most acute stressor for them, but her worries about climate change and the future of the planet are truly existential to them.
They talk about not thinking that they will not be able to have children or that they do not want to have children because they do not want to leave this planet that they inherited. I think what makes it so difficult for them to deal with it is that they feel like there's very little they can do about it. Baby Boomers, who
hated their own parents and used to yell slogans like don't trust anyone over 30, should be able to empathize with how Millennials and Gen Z feel. We need to find ways to talk more productively across generations.
Vermeulen says that the essential starting point is respect. To parents, I guess I would say to really listen to them. Many of them are delicious. They are creative. They are thoughtful. They're so much more sophisticated than I was at their age because they've had all this access to all these resources, all of which they now have literally at their fingertips. And take their concerns seriously because they are valid in many ways. I will add to that. We need to have more fact-based debates that take into account vast amounts of huge social, economic, and environmental breakthroughs that we either take for granted or are ignored by politicians and the press because it doesn't fit their agenda.
Extreme poverty has fallen from 94% to 10% in the last two centuries, education and literacy have skyrocketed, racism, sexism and homophobia have declined, global life expectancy continues to increase and democracy is on the rise. increase. The 2018 UN Climate Report that supposedly claimed the world would end in 12 years actually says nothing of the sort. Policy analysts like Scott Winship point out that 70 percent of Americans in their 30s are doing better than their parents at the same age. For Generation Disaster, why do your parents or grandparents have these negative reactions? Because you don't understand them any more than they understand you, but you could probably try.
Every generation fights for its place in the world, and there's no doubt that the same Boomers who once sang along to Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are a-Changin'" are impossibly slow to get offstage and give someone else a turn in the spotlight. . There's no question that
millennialsand Gen Z face unique problems that they didn't cause, but that's been true for every other generation as well. We just lost the ability to talk to each other and listen to points of view, we haven't completely lost it, but it is challenging to listen to points of view that conflict with our own and try to understand why people have these perspectives.
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