If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that I don’t come for Boomers. My general stance on Boomers is that they did what we were taught to do: pay your taxes, vote for whomever you feel made the best case, and try to make the best out of this shitfest called “life.” I don’t necessarily hold them blameless but I’m not one of those people hell-bent on tying every inconvenience or perceived injustice to people who were born decades before I was even thought of and probably have their own grievances against the generation before them as well.
But, there’s this one thing that I keep hearing or witnessing over and over again that I find troubling. The Boomer need for one-upmanship of the worst things in life is unlike I’ve ever known. Granted, we all know that at least a base level narcissism seems to be a recurring feature of the Boomer generation. But the constant game of “How Low Can You Go?” is concerning.
Recently, I was reading the Facebook post of a friend who had experienced a few of her own health challenges. She was recounting how after going through debilitating health issues and other issues beyond her control, her mother, a Boomer, sent her an e-mail in which, instead of empathizing with her child’s pain, she went on to talk about the tough time she had being a single mother and raising my friend. My friend is near 40.
When I read the post, the first thing I thought was:
We’ll look over the fact that being a parent is a choice while debilitating illness is not. Where was the care and concern for the well-being of your child who couldn’t even get out of bed many days?
The problem though is that this behavior is not uncommon amongst Boomers. They seem to have the uncanny knack for either being completely dismissive, purposely obtuse, or morbidly competitive with the generation (and-a-half since the media can’t decide if Gen X/Xennials existed or not) under them. In the best case scenario, they are just flippantly aloof. In the worst case scenario, they’re prepared to argue you down about how they had it worse than you for 20 minutes.
I’m not certain how the generation that came from the generation that endured The Great Depression (aka The Greatest Generation) has turned out so callous about the suffering of other people, even their children. What’s funnier is that this was probably the last generation that, en masse, were taught things like manners in school. This is the last generation that was expected to have a grasp of the basic social contract. This is the last generation that is expected to understand and commit to, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” and bring soup and casseroles to people they hardly even know.
Further, I wonder if they realize their lack of empathy is being passed down to the very people who will be responsible for figuring out their ultimate trajectory once they lose mobility, cognition, or their systems start to shut down. Tables have a way of turning, even if it’s because someone picks them up and turns them. Imagine the furor over putting Marge in the Sunny Days Senior Residence with the D- rating and roaches estimating that because her children’s super smartphones died, they had it waaaaay worse than her losing the ability to control her bowels and swallow.
While I don’t think the beef between the generations will ever be completely cleared up, I can’t imagine the Boomer need to play tit for tat is helpful. There’s a reason the words “trauma,” “therapy,” and “depression” have been unofficially trending on social media the last 5 years.