Recently a comment on this blog by JenX67 got me thinking about the Boomer-Xer riff that’s been going on forever. You see, I’ve really lightened up on the Boomers over the last year, mostly because I work with a bunch of them that have been really cool to me. And they do the things I think most Xers want from their Boomer colleagues like teach you stuff and then encourage you to take things to the next level and then don’t get in your way.
I think there are some Boomers who have this idea that Xers are waiting for them to die so that the Xers can take over. Literally, that’s the phrase I’ve heard used - “waiting for us to die.” But the thing is, I don’t think most Xers want what Boomers have. I think Xers would like to keep what Boomers got right (like making it okay for professional women to do something other than be a teacher, secretary, or nurse) – but then dump the stuff they screwed up.
I read this article about writer Matt Bai who decided not to write a book about President Obama so that he could write a book about what the Boomers didn’t get right in politics. In the interview, Bai talks about Gary Hart and how he was a creative thinker, but he was flawed and therefore rejected by the Boomer establishment (we also saw this with Bill Clinton). Bai also said he wanted to write this book for Xers and future generations so that these problems could be addressed.
But the article was obviously edited by a Boomer with the “waiting for us to die” philosophy. The headline was “Bai to Boo Boomers in New Book.” I’m assuming that’s because if a Gen X writes a critical analysis of the Boomer legacy, it would mean he’s booing the Boomers. Whatever.
So it makes sense to me that a lot of my fellow Xers are fed up with this kind of thing. But I ask you to look for that Boomer in your life who doesn’t fall into the Boomer stereotype – because it will be those people who build the bridges to younger generations. It’s those people who realize that although we are not waiting around for them to die, they will eventually die. And the impact they have on the future begins with the impact they have on the Xers.