Okay, stop the presses, this just in: Baby boomers are in a funk!
According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, forty-five to sixty-five year olds are not feeling the love. In fact, 80 percent of us are pessimistic about the way things are going in this country.
Although the old folks – the really old folks, those over sixty-five — aren’t feeling all that sunny either (76 percent of them don’t like the way things are going) somehow this information about boomers is breaking news.
Am I the only baby boomer who is sick of this annoying cultural obsession with examining and defining who we are and what we feel? Why this endless need to keep ascribing vaguely defined and contradictory attributes to a group of over seventy-five million people born between the ages of 45 and 64? And as someone on the young end of the boom, it annoys me that boomers are forever linked with the 1960’s hippie Woodstock thing, a party that I was waaaay too young to attend.
But here are a few other random tidbits about “us” that Pew thought fit to include in their study:
1. Seven out of ten boomers say the main purpose of marriage is mutual happiness and fulfillment, rather than raising a child.
2. When it comes to the idea of alternative lifestyles, boomers are less accepting than 18 to 20 year-olds are of same-sex couples raising children and of unmarried couples cohabiting.
3. Boomers are more likely to accept divorce as a solution to marriage woes; about two-thirds of them say divorce is better than staying in an unhappy marriage.
Is any of this illuminating? Let’s imagine for a moment the prototypical boomer or boomerette based on this information. They demand fulfillment in their marriage, although not necessarily children, and they don’t support that same experience for cohabitating or gay couples with children. Oh, and when they stop feeling fulfilled, they get divorced, no problemo.
Okay, not only does that not sound like anyone I know, it sounds really unattractive. And that’s the problem with the image of boomers that emerges from all these “studies,” not to mention the legion of books and articles written about us. Not only is it vague to the point of meaninglessness — the demographic is simply too enormous — there is often a negative subtext. Remember how Bill Clinton was always being referred to as the “first baby boomer president” and how much of that discussion centered on whether or not he had smoked pot?
Basically if we’re not being accused of being tree-hugging hippies who destroyed the moral fabric of the country, we’re being accused of being greedy capitalists who haven’t lived up to our youthful ideals.
And now, according to Pew, we’re also whiny malcontents. No offense to all you boomers out there, but it kind of makes me wish I’d been born five years later.