Matt Heath: I love you boomers - but cheer the heck up

Publish Date
Monday, 13 March 2017, 1:54PM

Endless carping about younger generations sticks in the craw.

I love baby boomers. My Dad, uncles, aunties, friends' parents, my lovely Mum. Jim Hickey. All great people. But as we all know some boomers are on thin ice with my generation and those younger. Even more so now the PM has announced his distant future plans to change the retirement age. Screwing all of us in favour of them - again. Which would be okay if boomers didn't spend so much of their time slagging us off. We may love them but lots of boomers hate us in return.

On every forum that they know how to use, boomers are ripping into Gen X and Y. They grumble across comments sections, talkback radio and letters to the editor. They moan through dinner chats, tutt at restaurants, niggle us on the roads, pest noise control and grump through All Black games. Worst of all they wear reef sandals, three-quarter shorts with toggles and pepper the world with their pedantic complaints written in illegible cursive writing.

"Lazy" they call younger Kiwis. "Entitled" they snark to anyone who will listen. Which is odd because for the rest of New Zealand the collective noun for baby boomers is an entitlement. As in "there's a entitlement of baby boomers in this country who were given everything, sold the silverware, failed to elect governments that would save for their retirement and then pulled up the ladder".

Not wanting to generalise here but every baby boomer talkback call goes like this "If young people did what we did and spent less on luxuries, they'd have a house deposit by now. It's all selfies, fancy clothes, big screen TVs and no sacrifices". Which is of course amazingly unfair. Boomers won the lottery by virtue of when they were born. They have also worked extremely hard but so do Gen X, Y. A boomer telling someone to save harder is like a Lotto winner saying "knuckle down and you can be rich too". It's meaningless. Especially when much of the money that could be saved by younger generations will be spent on boomer superannuation and health care.

So why do boomers have such a problem with the rest of us? Probably because every generation thinks the next one sucks. Values move with age. Technology changes but people stay pretty much the same. Baby boomers are angry at younger Kiwis for behaving like they did when they were the same age. Eighteen-year- olds have always been 18-year-olds and 28-year-olds have always been 28-year-olds.

Now thanks to medical advances and slowing birth rates we have more 68-year-olds than 18, 28 and 38-year-olds. Which is fine, good on them. There's nothing wrong with getting older as long as you stay friendly and open. Sadly boomers plan to spend their remaining years bitching about the world simply because it's slightly different from the one they grew up in.

A few weeks back a boomer in his late 60s approached my friends at a sports bar. We were all on our devices and he took offence. "Are you standing here texting each other?" he snarled. "Can't you people have a conversation?" As it happens we were working remotely at the time but even if we had been "standing around texting each other" who cares? Why are boomers obsessed with how younger people communicate? Surely it's better than standing around smoking like their generation did 30 years ago. Gen X, Y's phone addiction will never cost the country as much as the boomer's love of fags has. I could have replied "shut up you ignorant, judgmental, irrelevant, walking cliche". But I would never say that. I love boomers.

Surely we can all agree that the generations before boomers had it hard and since then it's been pretty good. That New Zealand is a beautiful country full of hard working people and that it's rapidly becoming a gigantic retirement village. That's why boomers get what they want. There's a lot of them and they vote. Luckily thinkers from the right and left agree Gen X and younger have been and are being screwed. The power will shift at some point.

In the meantime it would be great if boomers could cheer up and be nicer. Try encouraging those coming through instead of scratching back. You could even be grateful now and then. How about the odd "thank you". Cheers. Love you guys.

via NZ Herald