Negative Comments are for Boomers

June 29, 2007

Sort of. I’m responding to Penelope Trunk’s question for her readers about negative comments, in which she asks what we think about abrasive comments people like she and Ryan Healy frequently receive. I’m going to agree basically with what some of her readers are saying. It’s all a matter of perspective. And I mean that generationally.

Personally, I think a lot of the comments Ryan receives are negative because they’re written by people not in our generation being outraged at young people being open enough to honestly say we disagree with the worldview and values so many Gen Xers and Boomers held. We’re willing to talk about how we differ (rather unapologetically) from much of what has come before us and much of what has been predicted about us. And that’s just part of being us. I get it completely, but I’m in Gen Y so maybe that’s part of it.

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6 Responses to “Negative Comments are for Boomers”

  1. newhoosier Says:

    To answer your question, I think it has little to do with generations and more to do with personalities. Some people like to make themselves feel better by spitting on other people. They will even do this to their “friends” and family.

    A lot of people also feel the need to both generalize others and compare themselves. It’s deeply rooted in our culture and is easily described as the marrow of the “Jones” generation referrenced in Penelope’s quiz. Keeping up with the Joneses is the reason older people think they can define younger people–it’s the way I was at that age and the way you should be when you’re my age. And even though younger people do the same exact thing (measure each other up and compete with each other), they don’t respect the views of the “establishment,” i.e. the older people because the older people don’t think for themselves; they merely follow the school (or herd, or pod, or whatever group you like).

    I personally think the oversimplification of generation-generalizations is wholly egregious. To spend time studying such a diverse group of people is akin to casting a net and studying whatever you catch just because they happen to live in the same area of the sea. It is a flawed approach and even though you’ll occassionally yeild useful results, more often than not, you won’t be able to tell the symphony from the white noise.

    I briefly touched on this at Ryan’s blog, which you may find. Though the idea is similar, I hope you find this comment thought-provoking, of value, and different from the aforementioned comment at Employee Evolution.


  2. Basically, I agree – generalizations are something that are difficult, because not everyone is going to fit all of them. I have a lot of “Gen X” mentality for a Millenial. But I think that very idea of breaking generalizations and embracing our own ideas, identities, and paths to success, interacting and evolving with the process, it is a hallmark of most of the newer generations. It wasn’t always this way. And we are different fundamentally for growing up in a time where this type of thinking – and talking about it – is okay. We don’t want to be stereotyped, generalized, and boiled down to a few short statements, and I don’t think anyone really ever did, but we are different in some ways because its okay for us to think that. It’s the norm.

    So it’s sort of a paradox in that way.

  3. newhoosier Says:

    “breaking generalizations and embracing our own ideas, identities, and paths to success, interacting and evolving with the process, it is a hallmark of most of the newer generations”

    In my personal experience, that’s not the case. My mom was told to find a husband and get married, my dad to get a job. They both passed up college. I was taught go to college then work my butt off for 45 years. Of course, since I was taught that we’ve realized that 1) company loyalty is hard to come by these days, 2) retiring at 65 is a pipedream for most Americans. Which is fitting, because I wasn’t taught that Social Security would take care of me. I was taught to never trust someone else to take care of you–you have to have a plan. How many people in their 40s have started saving for retirement?

    People who grew up in the 60s & 70s were very anti-establishment. The sexual revolution, homosexuality gaining acceptance, care about the environment. If that’s not “embracing [their] own ideas, identities,” etc. then I don’t know what is.

    I think wanting to be different from the previous generation is not a Gen Y thing, but rather a trait of all generations. Likewise, I think all generations conform; because the generation sets the standards of measure.

    That’s just how society works. The bulk of society–no matter the generation–conforms to societal norms. The only difference between boomers and Yers is that of experience. More experience makes some boomers wise and some boomers cynical. Lack of experience makes some Yers naive and some open-minded. It doesn’t make one or the other better–or even different, or notable. To be quite frank, I’ve learned very little in my life from my peers. On the other hand, I’ve learned a lot from older people.

    When people quit quibbling over the differences and start to appreciate different viewpoints–whether new or old–people will be successful. The world values the spoils of the innovative much more than the commonplace that comes from the sheeple.


  4. I definitely get what you’re saying and I don’t disagree. I’m just vibing on the whole interactive, 2.0 elements of our world that didn’t exist in the past, that are shaping and defining our experiences in a different way. Perhaps the difference I’m getting at is that as a part of a generation that is growing up in a participative media world, we are very conscious that we are writing our definition of what it means to be in our generation now, while we’re living it, instead of realizing in hindsight that the experiences we had would shape who we became, our careers, etc. We realize that to some extent, we can control and edit that definition now – because we’re inside of it while it’s being written about for us. We’re blogging personal diaries from early ages on for the world to read. There’s a new level of transparency and a record being kept – it raises the stakes somewhat, just mixes things up a little differently.

    I’m not saying by any means we’re superior to people in other generations or anything like that at all. Just that there’s a different level of self awareness, perhaps, self-conciousness that leads to self-actualization or self-publishing or whathave you – that is at the core of what it means to be a part of Gen Y.

    I agree wholeheartedly that we can and should learn from anyone in any generation – perspective is key, and we can’t really rely on only our own to get the full picture of anything.


  5. [...] we’ll face the challenges and opportunities we know are coming. As a part of the conversation myself, I’ve been very interested in how workers in different generations view this topic of our [...]


  6. [...] we’ll face the challenges and opportunities we know are coming. As a part of the conversation myself, I’ve been very interested in how workers in different generations view this topic of our [...]

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