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Make Grandparents Great Again: The Rise of the Golden Age of Boomer Self-Indulgence at the Expense of the Young

boomer generation having fun

It's a spicy topic that keeps getting hotter, and has recently become elevated from private conversations held between 30-somethings commiserating over a meal they can barely afford to enjoy, to a recent trickle into mainstream media. It's the boomer generation! Home to some of the most narcissistic and self-indulgent people on the planet. While they shouted from the rooftops about everything that is wrong with young people, the internet, and everything else for decades, they've conveniently forgotten all they've done to cripple the economy and rob their own children and grandchildren of any chance at prosperity. It's all about them, all the time. Their grandchild's 3rd birthday party? "Ooh, might be on our 5th vacation of the year then, sorry! See you when we get back!" Sunday dinners with the family? "Aah, I'll see if I can swing it. Got a prior engagement!" Biggest holiday of the year? "Ugh, the drive is just too much. I think we're just going to celebrate at home." Caring for their own elderly parents? "LOL! Put them in a retirement home, I haven't got the time or space!" But therein lies the problem... they have all the time and all the space. And if they haven't squandered it all yet like many of their peers, they've typically got plenty of money socked away, too. But don't count on seeing any of it! In fact, you can be sure most millennials will be ponying up the costs to care for them themselves once it all runs out.

Do a lot of people my age complain constantly? Yeah, you know what? We do. And there's a lot to complain about. Here's a few fun ones for starters:

  • Unlike older generations who experienced relatively long periods of economic stability at some point in their lives, millennials have endured three major financial calamities during their formative years including the dot-com bubble implosion, financial crisis of 2008, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • We are making less money generationally, with less buying power - and it's far worse for our kids.

  • For the first time in U.S. history, a 30-year-old is no longer earning as much as their parents earned at 30.

  • The cost of buying a home and pursuing higher education has become unattainable for most young adults.

  • Almost half of millennials have student loan debt, and are on average $40,614 in the hole. (And that doesn't even come close to the debts I know of personally with friends who attended private colleges which charged almost $80,000 annually to attend... then factor in predatory interest rates and, oh yeah, they're drowning...)

  • Childcare costs are now higher than ever, rising at nearly twice the overall inflation rate - and is cited as the driving force behind why many millennials are holding off on having kids, growing their family further, or ultimately choosing to not have children at all.

  • Big food and big pharma have made and kept us sicker than previous generations - with 44% of millennials born between 1981-1988 having been diagnosed with at least one chronic health condition.

  • We are more depressed and less connected than ever, with mental health at the worst it's ever been recorded, declining marriage rates, US fertility rates reaching a new historic low, and less Americans than ever having any religious identity.

For more fun facts, check out this recent TED Talk with Scott Galloway who explains the crisis at hand far better than me, and with all the charts and statistics your heart could desire:

So yeah, we're all a little pissed off day-to-day, and more than sick of being told that we're lazy, should buy our own house, and be lectured all about what they were doing "at our age." The boomers have paralyzed our generation through irresponsible choices and bad policy, and robbed us of the fundamental things our parents and grandparents have enjoyed.

As kids, most of us were thrown in childcare all day, fed fake-food Lunchables, had our brains molded by gangster rap and Grand Theft Auto, had unbridled access to the unfiltered depths of the internet, and grew up in or around broken families. To this day, Baby Boomers continue to divorce more than any other age group. Looking back, it seems like our generational failure was inevitable.

But still, we persevere. We want better for our kids. We want to do our part to help fix what is broken in the world. We're the only ones that experienced (and remember) life pre-internet and pre-cell phones, and have the understanding and tools to try to course-correct for our own children.

I remember enjoying all kinds of wonderful things that my grandparents afforded us when I was a child. Condos on the beach, holidays at the boat club, extended-family vacations, tons of traditions... where has it all gone? Our kids get none of it. And where are the boomers to be found? Well, they're out enjoying their best lives! "You grubby little brats can work for it like we did!" Except you didn't have to work for it like we are, and got to take advantage of all the things we don't have and won't get. And while no one is waiting around or relying on an inheritance, it's not like the boomiez won't have squandered most all of it for their own self-serving enjoyment anyway by that time.

They're not around to help with grandkids, heck, they can't even be bothered to show up half the time. They refuse to age gracefully, with the vast majority of boomer parents I know refusing to even be called "grandma" or "grandpa" today. No, no... they've got to have a "cool young name!" Usually something made up or kitschy-sounding that their children can barely stomach to refer to them as in front of their toddlers. I mean, it's embarrassing. You're supposed to live for your family, that's what life is supposed to be about. Ask any millennial who has recently had a baby, and they will tell you their life was instantly transformed and they feel a sense of purpose that in indescribable. The most heartbreaking thing of all is recognizing that the values you hold are not being honored by your own parents. Sure, they'll say their grandkids are the "best part of their life!!!" in their TMI Facebook post with photos of your kids you never approved of being shared with strangers on the web, but when the curtains are drawn and the world isn't watching? Well, they've got better things to do - bigger things to serve their selfish desires. They come first. And they want to be celebrated when they do carve out the time, show up to the playground, or remember to text.

And before anyone reading this thinks I am some unappreciative little gremlin that hates my own parents, I am speaking for my generation at large. My parents and relatives aren't personally guilty of everything on this list, but everybody I know has wrestled with these realities and has varying degrees of emotional turmoil they are struggling with every day. (And if this entire article has been absolutely vile and heart-wrenching for you to read as a boomer, then either you're one of the good ones and we salute you, or you might be troubled with the accountability aspect of being part of the problem.) We are just sick of it. We're sick of feeling voiceless, and sick of being gas lit. We're sick of being let down by the very same people that were supposed to help and guide us into this next phase of adulthood. We're sick of trying to explain or justify why family should come before everything. We're sick of everything we've been burdened with, while we watch our parents' age group take zero responsibility or accountability for the things they've done that have caused us immense hardship and pain. It's not in our heads, it's a reality. And if the boomers don't recognize this and get it under control fast, there is truly irreparable damage that will be done. One day, the clock on everyone's health runs out. I'd hate to be on the losing side of the "remember when" conversation when that fateful day comes. Once the 14-day cruises end, and the extra cars in the garage (that you don't even drive) are being sold off, all you'll have is us. And you'd better hope by then that we have it in our hearts to do better for you than you did for your own parents.


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