It seems to me that we spend a lot of time comparing ourselves to others as a way of defining how well we are doing or how different we are. Comparisons like this cause us stress, angst and unnecessary concerns.
In my work, I am interested in the way generations interact, particularly the Baby Boomers (BBs) and Millennials (Ms).
As a general guide - BBs were born from 1946 to 1964, Ms were born from 1980 to 2000. These dates aren't fixed in time and there will also be variations to these dates depending upon what website you go to. (Just to clarify, Ms are part of Gen-Ys who were born from mid 1970s to 1995, today they are lumped under the same banner).
BBs are sometimes labelled as self-centred - they received a free education, have a lack of community awareness, don't care about the environment, couldn't care less about others, hold grudges for years, and are bullies.
Ms are said to be narcissistic, entitled, uncommunicative, consumerist, privileged, community oriented and environmentally aware.
I have difficulty with these statements, not because they are incorrect or a generalisation, because both generations are the same to a large extent. More importantly, Ms are the children of BBs.
Let's look at the comparisons and why they might actually be the same;
- BBs are self-centred, but isn't that also what a narcissism is? Moreover, BBs want the very best for their family which makes them seem self-centred. MMs simply take a wider view of what the word 'family' means, they include the community as part of their family.
- While BBs did receive free education, who funds Ms education? Often the parents do in one way or another, either directly or through taxes.
- BBs do care about the environment, it is this very generation who run (and fund) major organisations involved in environmental issues. Ms certainly have a better understanding of the environment because they were taught it in schools, by BBs.
- BBs care about their families and work hard to maintain a lifestyle that they never had themselves. Incidentally, BBs created consumerists in Ms by giving them as much as they could.
- Ms aren't as communicative with BBs as with their own generation, but weren't BBs the same? Yes, BBs did talk to their parents more than Ms talk to their parents, but BBs were never honest with their parents and only talked to get them off their backs. Plus, BBs didn't have the technology to talk with others as Ms now do.
- BBs often say that they started with nothing, "I lived on a mattress in an empty rented house and worked my way up to what I have now over 30 years". True, but BBs parents didn't have that, most of them lived in homes supplied by their employer or the state. And you didn't hear BBs parents saying that BBs expectations were too high, did you?
I could go on but I am sure you get the picture. For me, misunderstandings arise across generations when one generation compares themselves to the other. Things are not as they once were and things will always be different moving forward. But for the most part we are all the same.
BBs, stop comparing your generation to Ms because things will always seem different when comparing the past to the present.
Today, the way we talk is different, the method in which we communicate with others is different and the way we live is different. The way BBs spoke to each other is no longer appropriate, we can now communicate across the world in an instant in many different ways, and we now have the ability to live better than we once did.
MMs, you need to talk more with your parents. Sending electronic messages is not talking nor is using two or three word sentences. No-one can read minds.