The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'baby boomers'
In recent social psychology news, a team of US researchers has debunked the myth of the Baby Boomers' strong work ethic:
The economic success of the United States and Europe around the turn of the 20th to the 21st century is often ascribed to the so-called Protestant work ethic of members of the baby boomer generation born between 1946 and 1964. They are said to place work central in their lives, to avoid wasting time and to be ethical in their dealings with others. Their work ethic is also associated with greater job satisfaction and performance, conscientiousness, greater commitment to the organization they belong to and little time for social loafing.Hang on, I hear you say: the stereotypical Baby Boomer work ethic? The generation born between 1946 and 1964, that of Beatlemania and Woodstock, long hair, Free Love, anti-Vietnam-War protests and recreational drug use (and, at its younger end, shading into the fuck-the-system nihilism of punk), being associated specifically with duty, discipline and delayed gratification? That can't be so. Perhaps whoever came up with that idea skipped a decade or two, and was instead thinking of a slightly earlier cohort; perhaps their older half-siblings, the neatly groomed beige-suited Eddie Haskells who addressed their parents as “sir” and “ma'am”, or even the “Greatest Generation” who sacrificed everything in World War 2, only to watch their kids grow their hair, listen to that godawful racket, and generally not exemplify a particularly strong work ethic.
The other possibility is, of course, that the stereotype of the “Baby Boomer work ethic” is not so much about the Woodstock generation but about old people. Which is to say, that it reflects survivor bias; the likelihood that the ones left standing into advanced age either had their shit together from the outset or got it together. Presumably, of the generation that came of age in the heady Sixeventies, some will have fallen by the wayside (and, of course, Reaganism, AIDS and punk rock were just around the corner), some will have grown up and gotten with the programme (this was in the day before emoji and executive hoodies, when adulthood was a one-way transformation into a stolid mortgage-paying lump of joyless responsibility), and some, seeing that they had survived and succeeded, would have rationalised that they had been hard-working and responsible (and, thus, deserving of their success) all along. Which, of course, vacated the space of feckless irresponsibility for the younger generation, to whom it always belongs.
Of course, what this means is that, in some 20 years' time, we can look forward to a paper debunking the widely held stereotype that Generation X—the one most recently associated with MTV, “alternative rock”, Nintendo and the “slacker” stereotype—are inherently more moral, virtuous and upstanding than their shabby, feckless descendants. And then, eventually, it will be the millennials, the generation of selfies, Taylor Swift and crushing debt. And, in turn, every generation will, shortly before its death, briefly be the Greatest Generation standing.
A landmark in the greying of rock'n'roll and the teenage dreams of the baby boom generation: the average age of members of The Rolling Stones, who celebrate their 50th anniversary as a band this year, is now almost two years higher than the average age of US Supreme Court justices (once referred to as the “Nine Old Men”, on account of it being an office one attains late in life and retains until death or incapacity). The average age of the (surviving) Rolling Stones is 68 years and 300 days, whereas that of Supreme Court justices is 67 years and two days.
It is apparently possible to travel around England entirely by local bus, if one doesn't mind doing so at a leisurely pace. And here are the timetables for getting from Penzance to Berwick-upon-Tweed entirely on local buses; the journey takes six days.
Other than obsessive bus anoraks (of which there must be some), this may be of interest to thrifty pensioners, for whom local buses across England have just become entirely free. Though, judging by the comments, not everyone's happy with that:
These baby boomers really know how to look after themselves. Their war veteran parents over the last 20 years had to pay. Never heard them getting free national bus travel. And their kids had to get out big loans to go to University while they got full grants. The FREEBIE generation.
Misguided, that word "free"! Yes, the pensioners will get a nice free ride but everyone else will be forced to subsidise it via higher bus prices. Good PR for the government; everyone else however will suffer further price increases. The bus companies will not let us off the hook as they still have to pay for the services. Gordon Brown cheers
Richard Kendrick, Leeds
Web entrepreneurs are attempting to adapt the MySpace formula, massively successful with teenagers and twentysomething, to the huge baby-boomer demographic. One attempt is Eons.com, which replaces the pop music and cool animated ads with brain-exercising games, a longevity calculator and an obituary notification service:
"Many people no longer live where they grew up so the idea of a rich story about someone's life in a local newspaper is often lost," said Taylor, who sees online obituaries replacing the traditional death announcements in newspapers.
He said baby boomers, the 77 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964, also wanted to have a greater input into their own funerals. This prompted Eons.com to look into a service where people could plan for their favorite songs to be played at their funeral and where friends and family can go afterward for food and drink.
As part of VICE's "Kill Your Parents" issue, Jim Goad sets the record straight on a number of baby-boomer counterculture heroes:
He was many things … a First Amendment warrior, a womanizer, a hipster and a junkie … but the one thing a comedian is supposed to befunnyhe wasn’t. “Take away the right to say ‘fuck,’ ” came one of Lenny Bruce’s most famously self-serving lines, “and you take way the right to say, ‘fuck the government.’ ” Thanks, Lenny. We’re now allowed to say “fuck” in certain special circumstances. But the government fucked you harder. You turned rat on your drug-dealing friends, and it’s safe to assume your morphine overdose in 1966 was a hot shot delivered as street vengeance.
The Beatles were a great rock ’n’ roll band except they couldn’t sing, play their instruments, or keep a beat. Despite claims of being a “working-class hero” after he’d salted away millions, and in spite of his prophet-of-peace shtick even though he was an overweening sourpuss who couldn’t even get along with his bandmates or wives, this sanctimonious junkie is still embraced as a beacon of childlike truth-seeking. He was shot dead by precisely the sort of true believer his massive ego helped spawn. His murderer, Mark David Chapman, reportedly used to lead schoolchildren in singing a parody of his hero’s signature song: “Imagine there’s no John Lennon.” It wasn’t hard to do.
As the baby boomers reach old age, the latest threat to public order is "Hell's Grannies", raising mayhem on their motorised wheelchairs.
The battle for domination between the Baby Boomers and Generation X is being fought in the realm of fashion:
Generation X, he said, had been hoodwinked by boomers into embracing their ageing culture. Popular culture is still stacked with fading sex symbols such as Pierce Brosnan and Mel Gibson. Black, a slimming colour, has been in vogue since the boomers began getting corpulent in the mid-1990s. Buzz cuts became de rigueur when balding 40-something men decided anything was better than a comb-over.
He said a fashion revolt had been spearheaded by the daughters of the boomers - generation Y - who began to flaunt their toned midriffs at the turn of the century. Future male generation Y trends might be body-hugging lycra in pale colours with patterns or hairstyles that can't be worn by balding men.
Apparently the black rectangular glasses worn by emo hipster types are also a baby-boomer baldness-camouflaging device, and too will disappear as we welcome our new buff, tanned Generation Y overlords, along with such 1960s trappings as zen and meditation.
I wonder, though, what this means for music. The rise of hip-hop/R&B into dominance of the charts could bear out this trend (the resurgence of 1970s-style rock goes against that; though perhaps those are the last death throes of Boomer-dominated pop culture?). In the indie sphere, classicist Beatles/Bacharach-inspired pop could give way to glitchy electropop made with laptops. The (late) boomers' punk-rock DIY aesthetic could give way to the UK Garage PlayStation DIY aesthetic. And with the backlash against wearing black, things don't look too good for goth, do they?