Monday, January 8, 2018

Bridging the Gap - The Generation Gap Between Boomers and Millennials.

There seems to be a divide between the generation gaps.  There also has been and there always will be this difference between the spring and summer, or could we say fall of the ages.  With this divide

there is a new and different, almost hostile, tone in the generational aire on the past decade that was
previously non-existent.  We all have heard the grumblings of the Baby Boomers’ and Generation X’s
distaste toward Millennials.  The perceived deficits range from Millennials not being worthy of voicing
an opinion about national, social and global policies erroneously based on their lack of historical
knowledge; to their laissez faire (or “lazy”) attitude toward social and workplace morality and ethics;
to an overall lack of motivation; to expecting everything new and unable to refurbish/recycle; to having
an unaware and disregard for the protestant ethic, to name a few.   But why is the generational
relationship so disparaging today in comparison to fifty years ago?  National Public Radio (NPR) had
a wonderful short segment that introduces the difficulties the Millennial face in comparison to earlier
generations.  One might argue that the narcissism of the older generation is the direct result of some
difficulties the Millennials experience.
The Millennial plight becomes a fascinating and potentially despairing encounter in our social construct as we are learning that many of these very perceptions about Millennials were inherited from Baby Boomers.  In a nutshell, the philosophical question is: Are today’s Millennials screwed because of their predecessors?  Although meant in rhetoric, the existential answer is Yes; but, how does the culture progress from this discussion.  From the Watergate corruption in politics to Gordon Gekko’s Greed is Good speech in Michael Douglas’ 1987 Wall Street Oscar win we have seen a symbolic poor parenting or mentoring for the Millennials.  The very traits that are viewed as distasteful about Millennials are the very insights that Boomers and X’ers unknowingly recognize as Self-reflective faults.  There have been newly fortified myths and a prevention from discussion whether Millennials have misused and corrupted the internet.  

However, who created the internet?  A quick timeline of the internet’s origin shows that Millennials and Generation Z’s were not even born when Baby Boomers created the technological new world.  A more informative and interesting narrative of today’s internet and social media’s origin; or, mom and dad’s first date at Rossotti (now Alpines’s Beer and Garden),  gives accounts of the internet’s early alignment with the military and collegiate universities.  As this was 40 years ago how are Millennials at fault for any current social, and possibly moral, behaviors that directly or indirectly connect with interpersonal communications with relate to our culture.
This new generation possesses the smarts to utilize many gifts; however, the technological creators never established criteria or regulations on the ethics, and protocol of such technological internet usage, which transcends to modern social and generational protocol.  Simply put:  Fathers used to teach their children how to drive a stick shifted automobile.  The child understood the mechanics of the car.  So when the child drove an automatic car he understood the mechanics and the process because his foot was enmeshed with the clutch that was connected to the floor of the car’s - the child was grounded.  With the internet the symbolic parent abandoned the social transition and young kids had this powerful technological tool without guidance.  Thus, you have hacking, viruses and identity theft.  Chaos, as the children are driving on freeways without a driver’s license and on neighborhood streets at at 70 mph.

So where do we navigate from here?  Baby Boomers could benefit from the STOP technique.  Start Trying Other Positives/Possibilities.  Include the baby boomers.  And engage in their world!  If you don’t like ink or artwork (tattoos) on your body don’t condemn.  Ask why the younger groups like it. Maybe support a Millennial through the procedure.  The data shows that Millennials are having less sex.  Is there an opportunity to mentor, and support this population in areas that are challenging?  As a therapist in Los Angeles I hear both sides of the generational frustration.  Many Millennials want elders to mentor them into success.  But like anyone, no one wants to be in condescend-land, dismissed, or belittled, or not heard.  The pressures of Millennials is daunting.  Student loans are at an all time high; no job security or benefits like the past, cost of living higher than in past generations; forced relocation from family to find decent salaried employment; working longer hours without rewards; global warming; unstable political climate; and an unknown bleak future.  

If the older generation avoided harsh criticism of Millennials and offered unconditional care and announced accountability in entitlement and their lack of mentoring; then, Millennials would be energized and productive in a way that would be the new protestant ethic.  This new ethic might be the new term Millennial Booming or the Booming Millennials.  

Objectively speaking, Millennials are not understood and possibly unfairly judged.  In tribal communities the tradition is to support the youth so that they become their full potentials.  The more support the youth receive and the more they are heard the stronger the community, at large.  So, to STOP, and to avoid the negativity of blaming and bashing Millennials might generate a merger that is for the greater good.  

Read more about Dr. Strayhorn's practice and philosophy...

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