Generation X-Box vs The Baby Boomers – Why This Is The Worst Time To Be Forty-Something But How It Might Work Out OK In The End
When you’re in your Forties, you should have a younger generation to look down on and an older generation to look up to. Youngsters who think they know it all despite not actually having done anything yet and stoic oldies who fought in some war or other so you didn’t have to. As I hurtle headlong to towards the age of 44, this is not the situation I find myself in.
The youngsters are there doing there bit, sure. But the reason I’m looking down on them has changed. Traditionally, Forty-somethings look down on people in their teens and twenties for one main reason : Jealousy. They’re young, I’m not. Full stop. They look good naked, I do not. End of story.
But I’m finding that these are not the reasons I’m looking down on the X-Box generation. I’m looking down on them because they are falling for a lie. And to be fair to them, it is a lie sold to them by my generation. But nonetheless, they are buying the lie wholesale. Hook, line and sinker. And the lie is this : Entitlement.
All their lives, these young people have been told they can do anything if they put their minds to it. And some of them can. They’re as sharp as the crease in a con man’s trousers. The world is their mollusc. However, most of them can’t. But they will drag themselves through University anyway without exploring other options, because that’s just what you do now.
They will be willing grist to the mill of an educational system which has become a ruthless money making industry. And so they will end up tens of thousands of pounds in debt but will still just get jobs they could have got with a healthy crop of school leaving qualifications and a positive attitude twenty five years ago.
Didn’t get results you wanted in an A Level Module? Sit it again. And again. And again, until you’re happy. Broke your leg because you were too busy texting to notice a wet floor? Sue somebody. You deserve that eight thousand quid. Why? Because you’re worth it.
Annoying as this generation who thinks it’s sponsored by L’Oreal is, it’s not as annoying as the generation that came before mine. The Baby Boomers. The people born between 1946 and 1964. The most pampered generation there has ever been.
Now, the main reason I find them annoying is jealousy. They cavorted their way through the Sixties. They pogo’d through the Punk explosion. They snorted their weight in cocaine during the Yuppie years. And most annoyingly, they reached sexual maturity when the worst incurable STD you could catch was Herpes. Painful and distressing as Herpes is, it’s not a potential death sentence.
“They know all about their rights and nothing about their responsibilities”. This is an accusation that is traditionally aimed at the young. But it’s a grenade that’s more appropriate to lob at The Baby Boomers than at Generation X-Box. All their “war” stories are about how less responsible they were when they were young. Boring us to death with tales of Woodstock and The Isle Of Wight Festival.
The Baby Boomers have had the easiest ride of all, but they still want to retire when they’re 65. Despite the fact that this age was set when you were lucky to live 10 years after retirement. It’s economically unsustainable given the longevity of the population now. When I get to 65, retirement will be a quaint idea from the past that crops up as an answer in Pub Quizzes.
There is a way that this can all work out well in the end though. Let the Baby Boomers retire at 65. It was what they were promised when they entered the world of work after all. And let people like me work until they drop, because you tend to drop a lot less early if you got something to get up for in the morning.
The new generation of high achievers will be running the country by then. They’ll need my generation’s skills as long as possible, because all the also ran’s with useless Media Studies Degrees won’t really cut the mustard in the cut throat environment that will be the future world of work.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2013