To the editors:
[Re: “Boomed Out,” by Julie Phillips, July 31]
My congratulations and sympathies to your plight as an adolescent in the 80s. First of all, congratulations for your straightforward (shall we call it rebellious?) attitude toward my generation. It’s about time. Many of us boomers were beginning to wonder whether or not your generation had it in them to complain about anything other than their pubescent problems, i.e. bad dates, bad haircuts, use of car, etc. Maybe rebellion isn’t passe like you state. Just like turning 40, adolescent rebellion has been around forever. It just seems to come in spurts every few decades. I, for one, hope it’s on its way back again.
Now my sympathies and gripes about your generation. I’m sorry you have to hear about us constantly. But what you call the self-centeredness of the boomers is confused with the overplay we get in the media. What do you expect when we account for the largest block of buying power this country has seen at any one time? We didn’t ask for the hype. But my advice is to get used to it because we will be the center of attention until our doddering days when we are boring our grandchildren, a privilege enjoyed by gray-hairs everywhere.
As far as “selling out,” you, along with many people my age, (regrettably) interpret the fervor of the 60s as a passing fad. Overexposure during the “me” decades to self-help, pseudo-psychological advice, and egocentric behavior has brainwashed many to think that the passions of youth can be reduced to nothing more than superficial fads and fashions. Fashions that can be dragged out at a later date and exploited economically by capturing the nostalgia of the older generation and appearing new to the next. So you did funny things to your hair–did you think it was new and cool? I hope you at least got the pleasure of upsetting your parents, but I doubt it.
My real sympathy, and it borders on tragic, is when you say you weren’t dumb enough to think you could succeed where (we) had blown it. While many in my generation have sold out many never “blew it.” Some of us still remember the emotions of a first love and don’t discount them. Several still strive for justice in an increasingly unjust world without taking refuge in condos or beemers. But you seem to have found a ready-made refuge of your own. You call it “cynicism,” which, by the way, was as abundant in the 60s as it is in the 80s. I think you have mislabeled your hiding place. It’s called apathy, and judging from the lack of anything coming from your generation it borders on inertia.
While you whine about the imposition of curfews, drinking age, etc, what do you do about it? You accept it with cynicism, or so you say. No wonder you admit your generation “isn’t that great.”
So you don’t want to hear about Vietnam, JFK, or anything that didn’t happen in your, as yet, life span. This is self-absorption to the max if you ask me. While it may be boring to you to listen to these events, like it or not they have shaped your reality as much as events before my time (i.e. the holocaust) shaped mine.
I’m not worried about boring my grandchildren because I’ve lived through exciting times and continue to do so. No, I’m worried for you and others of your generation that fail to grasp the importance of past events on their current life. What does your generation have going for it anyway? According to you not much. Are you going to do anything so you have something to bore your grandchildren with? Fortunately a few your age are in touch with the world around them. When Brown University students demanded cyanide pills be stocked in the student health service in case of nuclear war it was a step away from the cynicism you shield yourself with. While you wish that we would just shut up and move to another planet, I don’t have to concern myself about your whereabouts. Your distance from anything outside the time capsule of your decade lets me know that your generation is simply jealous of the attention my generation gets. If you want to be noticed, why don’t you do something noticeable–after all we did when we were your age. Or as one successful boomer would say, “Oh grow up!”
Signed, still booming and bored with boring boys and girls.