By G. Michael Dobbs
When I was growing up there were a lot of words used to indicate someone who was, well frankly, old.
You have the benign phrases such as “senior citizen,” and “golden ager.” You have the British phrase “pensioner.” Then the everyday slang terms come into play: “ blue hair,” “Q-tip,” “foggie,” “coot,” “fossil,” “geezer,” “oldster,” “codger,” “old goat,” and “Pops.”
For me, most of these terms conjure up an image of Gabby Hayes – in case you don’t know him, then do a simple web search.
And now there’s “boomer” as in “Okay, Boomer.” That phrase is used by members of younger generations as a way to essentially tell someone my age to be quiet. It’s a device to stifle whatever order, advice or anecdote is coming out of the mouth of someone who was born from 1944 to 1964.
So far, no one has used it on me. I know it’s only a matter of time.
To be clear, Boomers are now between the ages 55 and 75, so there are plenty of “old” people among us.
These generational definitions confuse me at times. To review, a “Gen Xer” is someone born from 1965 to 1979. A Millennial was born between 1980 and 1994, while the most current generation, Gen Z, was born between 1995 and 2015.
The term “Greatest Generation” refers of course, to the people who were born in the 1920s and ‘30s who grew up during the Great Depression and were young adults or teens during World War II. They also were the generation who built the prosperity during the 1950s and ‘60s.
I’ve been racking my brain to remember some sort of slang term denoting age that was used by my generation to members of the previous generation – other than of course the terms I mentioned at the beginning of this piece.
I can’t remember any.
There was plenty of conflict, though, between the two generations. Boomers accused the “Greatest Generation” of multiple sins, especially handing over a planet to us that was filled with problems. Boomers viewed themselves as more progressive and more in tune with problem solving. I’m not sure if that is really the case.
Some people of my generation used to say not to trust anyone over 30 – not a wise move in my book.
First, every generation hands over a planet to the next generation with challenges. Some are greater than others. Rightly or wrongly, climate change has been placed at the feet of Boomers as the principal problem we’ve allegedly created.
As we enter a new year, I would like to keep the phrase “age is only a number” in my head in the hopes that other people – younger people – will do as well.
Growing up, I saw great knowledge and wisdom come from members of the “Greatest Generation,” and it never occurred to me to discount what they said simply because of their age.
As we enter 2020, I hope people can start to think past age and generational stereotypes as part of an effort to combine ideas and experience to find solutions to our problems. Instead of pointing fingers and turning a deaf ear to a person older than you, perhaps simply listening is a better approach.
The same goes for us in the grey hair category. We can’t turn away from people younger than us and what they are saying and thinking.
To continue fighting the good fight, everyone is needed. Happy New Year to our Prime readers.
And by the way, the first whippersnapper who says “Okay, Boomer” to me is in for a surprise.
G. Michael Dobbs is the managing editor of Reminder Publishing LLC, and Prime’s local columnist.