Enough boomer brilliance – let’s move on

Reaching the end of my boomer ‘ain’t we cool’ rope.  Rant on. Got one of those ’10 baby boomers inventions that rocked our world’ e-mails today from a party who will remain nameless, but wanted to be credited should I publish it.  It felt familiar. Why, it was remarkably similar to a 2010 Reuters reprint of an article: Baby boomer inventions that changed the world which itself was an excerpt from a book by Patrick Kiger. No clue how many articles pre-date that one that noted the Jarvik heart, WWW, the Apple II, DNA, blah, blah, blah.  The self-aggrandizement (and marketing promotional opportunity) of boomers and those who wish to make a buck off of them – it's enough to make one gag.  And, as they say, I ARE one, and yeah, my business supposedly targets that demographic.

Boomers are not a movement.  I am so tired of reading about people who have virtually nothing in common with each other except a very broad age spectrum of problems and opportunities that barely distinguish them (other than sheer volume) from any other period in history. Not a special interest group, boomers are a poorly organized hodgepodge of special interests, many of which don’t overlap.  The one guaranteed descriptor you can say about them (and every age group that precedes and will follow) is that they will become older, one year at a time, and it is inexorable until death – which could happen sooner or later, based on the latest life expectancy data.  Maybe they have aging parents, the need to find or keep a job, a home equity line, an expanded waistline or a thinning bank account, an adult kid in the guest room and a pet that doesn’t listen to them. Maybe they are not digital natives – they’re immigrants. But are those the kind of common interest one can form a self-congratulatory club around? 

Move up-age to keep up with the times as they change. Are you writing for boomers, addressing the ‘boomer market’? So are you targeting 50-year-olds or 35-year-olds?  What’s the difference -- movie preference, choice of restaurants?  Why does AARP’s unfocused lens aim itself at the 50+?  This arbitrariness seems particularly inappropriate in this age of lengthening life expectancies.  If you live to age 50, the odds are in your favor that you will live until you are 65. Okay, if you live until you are 65, on average you have another 20 years to go (not factored by income, chronic illness, danger of your neighborhood or anything else).  So let’s say you have a moderately decent income, only a few reasonably well-managed chronic diseases, and your house has been remodeled to be viable for a variety of complex futures. The upshot: you are probably going to hang in there into your 90’s and now half of your life now falls within AARP’s purview! Good for them, silly for you. Your 50-60 needs may not be identical to your needs between 90 and 100.  Rant off.

 

furthermore

ALL the caregiver press/advice/guidance that i try to turn to is about bloody bloomin' boomers! get over yourselves - we are all in this world together!

hero!

Laurie - I've been surely falling in brain-love with you, but now you are undoubtedly my hero. Rant on!

Write On, Sister!

Laurie:

"Boomers are not a movement" is something we have been trying to tell people for years. Especially those launching boomer-focused websites like, well, Eons, TeeBeeDee, BoomerGirls, BoomerTowne, etc.

Apparently the lack of success or outright failure of many of those "boomers are an affinity group" sites (no, they aren't, we'd tell them), hasn't dissuaded PBS from launching Next Avenue or Huff Post to start their Huff/Post 50 sites. To them we say, good luck with that.

The only caveat to the boomer movement is that as they reach age 65 and beyond and truly become the next "seniors" in America, we think (or shall we say, predict) that being a boomer will begin to coalesce into a tighter identity and have meaning -- as in "older people" to most.

Meanwhile, keep ranting.

Matt

Life’s Brackets

OK so you rant that boomers are not a movement and that innovation is not their privileged domain exclusively, OK. However I want to speak up in defense of why boomers are hard to "shut up” and learning a mantra or two will get you through it. The sheer scale and diversity this big age frame represents has created an abundance of life style choices, like no other age bracket before it. Boomers have set a pace driving what I feel is an interesting intergenerational rhythm..which one can observe easily in the many social media orbits out there, your blog for example. My Facebook “friends" range from 18-103(OK so the 103 German has someone doing her posts--but she says hello on YouTube loud and clear).
The influence of civilization’s timing and sheer size of this one group makes “pushing the envelope” an everyday occurrence. LIfe in a flash in America went from Vanilla, donuts and Hail Mary to Cherry Garcia favored by hippy student now head of Columbia Medical School, Croissants available at Dunkin Donuts eaten by aging tattooed long haul truckers, California wines produced by ex Nuns to retired blue collar Catholics exploring Budha right in the heart of Cleveland, Ohio..oh and not to leave out the first interracial boomer President. By my recogning millions of boomer aged Americans from all walks of life have embraced cultural changes that has made it quite acceptability if it matters to one, to be "cool longer" without the stigma of what aging represented before. Life's wrap up has taken on many variations. OK last breath has not changed --got it, but lots leading up to it, certainly has. The boomer driven unwillingness to surrender almost an entire lifetime of unique events that were generational firsts (moon, internet, artificial heart, fertility everything, Rolling Stones, small sampling) has put challenging demands on science, health care and life style providers that of course gives all generations, equal benefit..Ahh the seeds of a long happy life start early. This special Marketing noise is a pain agreed, and Charlatans lurk everywhere (always have) But one marketing plus that boomer demand has driven in insane profit making numbers is in health care and health innovation. From better replacement parts, including new skin, even face and heart transplants, to drug therapies for once fast, fatal diseases. New discoveries in cell regeneration, who knows what they means in the next 20 years..new heart tissue has already been grown. And yes, just like the last living soldier from a memorable war gets big play as they exit life, I am certain the last identified boomer on Planet Earth (assuming they haven’t already moved to a space colony) will get an intergalactic media send off, the likes as the expression goes "you have never seen the likes of before".

Costs of Boomer Ostriches

I have been involved in marketing healthcare products to Boomers my entire career -- from contraceptives to erectile dysfunction, from STD treatments to cancer therapies. Boomers may not be homogeneous, but they do share one thing in common: they are all going to die. This, of course, is not news,and my generation is not alone in their denial of and lack of preparation for this. But, I suspect the particular sense of "specialness" that has been characteristic of many Boomers means that this generation will suck up unprecedented amounts per capita of scarce healthcare resources in the ramp up to the BIG EVENT. I now regret my contributions to perpetuating the concept that there are life-saving options out there or on the horizon.

your writing, my smile

Laurie,

Your writing has truly become a pleasure to read. I was picturing Louis Black or some similar humorous curmudgeon frothing this rant. When can I catch you with John Stewart?

The diversity within the BB domain

It's a puzzle, isn't it, that when an age demographic applies, all other variables fall out of sight. Variables that are both demographic and psychographic and make for many sub-groups within the BB domain, which isn't even homogenous by age. And given that the majority of people are living to nearly 90, to consider someone old at 50 is also bizarre. But take comfort, the rise of social media and social commerce is going to put BBs out of the spotlight. @KnowNOW_KnowHow

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