Elder Joke: Memory
Getting Old and Slowing Down

Who is Responsible For Boomer Blather?

Boomer-Living is not the first website attempting to exploit the numerous baby boomer generation with empty feel-good messages of eternal gray-haired youthiness. It is only the latest of many which not only add nothing to the cultural conversation about aging, but contribute to the perception that baby boomers are selfish twits with an overdeveloped sense of their own uniqueness.

Yes, baby boomers are the generation that supports the Ponce de Leon syndrome, spending millions on cosmetic surgery and wasting billions more on anti-aging nostrums that don’t work. And yes, baby boomers appear to be the generation most convinced that one more spin class will render them immortal. Baby boomers make it way too easy to mock them.

But with each day’s kneejerk boomer news stories and each new boomer-targeted website, I am well on my way to being persuaded now that it is not so much boomers themselves who are irritatingly self-centered. It is the news media and business community who demean boomers with their spiritless, insulting messages devoid of anything resembling real life.

Chuck Nyren of Advertising to Boomers started a list of the hackneyed drivel to be found on every boomer website:

  • Redefining Life After Fifty!
  • Don't Just Live Longer. Live Bigger. After 50 Life Becomes Yours.
  • Our mission is to inform and inspire the Boomers and to promote a new vision of life after fifty.
  • Our mission is to encourage our readers to live bigger. To take risks and pursue their dreams.
  • Our vision…is to rewrite the rules of getting older and transform the voice of aging from one of limitation to one of possibility.
  • [-] is a media company focused on empowering individuals to live the lives they imagine.

Hey there, reader. Wake up! I've got more to say:

The Never-Never-Land world of baby boomer websites is bland, colorless and unimaginative - a place where no one gets tired or can’t find clothes that fit nor is age-discriminated out of a job and most of all, where everyone pretends old age is no different from age 40.

Like its counterparts, the just-launched Boomer-Living is packed with plastic platitudes that will put you to sleep faster than one more round of (all together now) “re-de-fin-ing re-tire-ment.” If baby boomers are not insulted by this pabulum, then I’m wrong in rethinking who is responsible for it and boomers deserve what they are getting.

Do yourself a favor: skip Boomer-Living and watch Retirement Living TV instead. And while you’re at it, please help out their campaign to be carried on cable systems in more cities. You can do that by clicking the badge on the right sidebar or just click here.

Comments

I must have missed the memo that said I was supposed to be a unique-feeling twit. If I had thousands to spend on plastic surgery, I wouldn't. I realize there's nothing on the market that will counteract 30 years of ignoring my skin in the Texas sun.

I spend most of my time in elastic-waisted pants, big T-shirts and croc-offs. I wear socks with sandals.

I don't care.

I'd probably wear a red hat, if I didn't hate uniforms.

But, you know what? I have a lot of fun.

I wonder how you came by your original impressions - as opposed to media-driven ones - of baby-boomers?

Ronni

You said:

"I am well on my way to being persuaded now that it is not so much boomers themselves who are irritatingly self-centered. It is the news media and business community who demean boomers with their spiritless, insulting messages devoid of anything resembling real life."


You have hit upon the key to understanding the Boomer Generation. It may not be that they are as self centered as we have been led to believe; rather it is the corporate culture's constant pandering to the large boomer demographic that irritates all of us

And have you noticed the contious drum beat on the national news about the "sandwich generation" taking care of ailing parents as if this is an entirely new phenominum unknown to any other generation. While raising my then teen age children I was also caring for my aging mother who lived with my husband and me for 13 years until she had to go into assisted living where I continued to care for her until she died at age 91.


Boomers are diverse - just by virture of the span of years if nothing else.

The media and mass marketing have twisted the image of the Boomers somewhat. Granted, I know a lot of people who fit your description of "selfish twit" (and not just Boomer-aged ones), but I don't know that most of us Boomers are precisely chiseled as the media would like to portray us.

Maybe because we came of age in so much change, maybe because we grew up in an America where the middle class had value and strength, perhaps because medical science has extended the human lifespan, or maybe just a quirk of all of the above, Boomers do have a different attitude about aging. I would venture to say that all coming generations after the Boomers will adopt the same mentality of denial when it comes to aging. The Boomers may have whacked the first volley, but we will by no means be the last at the net. Medical science has extended our lives tremendously, and because a lot of us are living well past 80, there has been a shift in perception of what is "old".

I predict the Generation X'ers and Y'ers will be far more steeped in denial about aging than any Boomer.

In defense of Boomers, I will say this: half the battle for anything is mental. Keeping a mental attitude that you are capable of accomplishing until you draw your last breath is not necessarily bad. Yeah, the "Boomers" tend to take this to the extreme, and yes, one has to be realistic about the limitations of certain lifespan markers, but refusing to accept someone else's definition of when you are officially "old" is commendable in my book. As you have pointed out in the past, Ronni, no one individual ages the same, neither physically or mentally, and unfortunately the two traits seldom occur simultaneously.

I would go further to point out that there are those Boomers who are not so vain about retaining youthful beauty, but do insist on being as active and mentally sharp as long as possible. They are not so ignorant as to expect to be a spry 20 year-old all their lives, but they do intend to spend their earthly time to the penny.

Then, there are the plastic Boomers, with all their surgeries and hair transplants and goofy antics, "I'm forever young" Rod Stewart groupies that deserve the bashing.

But, hey, the world would be a dull place without Rod!

ML:

From long exposure to baby boomers themselves, books, newpaper and magazine articles by boomers, movies and TV written by boomers, and for too long believing all the media about boomers - written mostly by boomers. Their irritating contention - boomers and writers - that they invented rock-and-roll, led the civil rights, womens' and anti-Vietnam War movements - none of which they did; they were too young. The generation older than mine did all that, people born in the 1920s and 30s, people now in their late 60s and older, if they're still alive.

Boomers are the biggest consumers of cosmetic surgery and anti-aging products and now it's sifting down to younger and younger people.

And you can't trust the researchers who survey boomers either. Any given day in dozens of newspapers, there are surveys that say boomers are the healthiest generation ever and others than says they are the fattest and least healthy ever. Boomers are the largest consumers too (depending on the survey) of orthopedic surgery because they believe they're still 30 and push their bodies beyond what's possible without injury when they're in their 50s.

You have to watch too who's paying for the studies. When an association representing new-style retirement communities with lots of sports opportunities pays for one, boomers are the healthiest ever. When the private health insurance industry pays for one, they are the unhealthiest.

Etc. etc.

I semi-agree with your comments on this new website. I talked briefly about it on my blog (It's a boomer oriented technology site) and wondered why they have a video that starts playing on every new page. Very annoying.
As far as your other comments go, I have ranted a few times about negative boomer articles and posts. What really hit home is when I was looking at some of my referral link addresses recently, one came from google after the person typed in "I hate boomers".

Chancy and Cowtown Patti—you said much of what I might have said.

I think the media is what a lot of this is about. And digging a little deeper—after all, media does not exist for its own sake, I wonder if the bigger question isn’t of character. Individual character (why do people feel the need for a face lift—my cousin, whom I see as so average, had a face lift when she was around 50), and national character, which raises a whole plethora of questions—why is debt such a problem, why are our prisons bursting at the seams, etc.

So, back to boomers. Why is the concept of “boomers” so big? It’s just a phrase to indicate persons born within a certain timeframe, but I tend to feel it’s media that is exploiting it and perhaps a small percentage of boomers themselves that are buying into it and all that they imagine it to mean.

"baby boomers are selfish twits with an overdeveloped sense of their own uniqueness."

Um, yes, yes we are -- exactly!!

"But mom, I want to be DIFFERENT - just like all my friends!"

;^)

I believe and have believed all along that the primary forces promoting the boomers differences from the rest of the population are commercially driven, be they adverstisers, writers, researchers. All to many see this exploitation of the fact the age group is so large in number as a way to find an approach or gimmick to make a buck. Yes, some individuals engaged in studying this group are sincere, but I read a lot of "feathering my own nest" using the latest pop topic as the tool of those with "...empty feel-good messages of eternal gray-haired youthiness" as you so aptly described my perceptions, too, Ronni.

Probably every individual and every generation wants to believe they are special in some way -- human nature. I would like to hear and see more about what is outstanding about any particular generation, in this case the Boomers, with a more honest recognition and acceptance that there has been a lot of credit-giving or credit-taking for achievements of other generations, implications that those same generations did nothing toward enabling the successes the boomers were able to achieve. I'm just concerned as to how many boomers actually believe that press. Fortunately, most of my boomer friends do not.

I strongly believe, always have, and have repeatedly said so here, that it is critically important that the older generations including the boomers, for they are older, need to focus realistically on unification of all our goals. We have only to look at our country today to see the ruins that come when we allow deviseness to become our focal point instead of the issues we face and need to resolve.

Ronni:

Great piece and right on the money in so many ways. Plus, the comments are great, too.

Perhaps your readers should be pointed to Brent Green's blog, http://boomers.typepad.com, where Brent fights the good fight against both ageism and generational bias in media and advertising.

Yes, all Boomers are different but they do all share a common place in time and history -- coming of age in the 1950's, 60's and 70's.

No one else experienced those times at that age. Now I'm not saying growing up then was better or worse than growing up in the 1940's or 1980's or whenever -- it was just different. That's what made Boomers who they are.

In fact, the earlier comment that Boomers didn't lead Civil Rights or Women's Lib is right. But they were the "foot soldiers" who lived it and made it real.

Anyway, keep up the good work.

Ronni,
You are terrific! Thanks for the continued plugs for our new TV network, Retirement Living. I work on the show that featured the piece on elderbloggers, for which you were our studio guest.

I love all the conversation on your site between you and your loyal fans because it helps me remain alert to ageist assumptions that might creep into my work as I develop story topics for future shows.

The "Boomeritis" symptoms you diagnosed in your blog are so on point, as well as those in the posted comments. I am 54 and fall smack in the middle of the Boomer cohort. Not for a minute would I want to be 24 again, or 34 for that matter. Why trade all my hard-earned experience, wisdom and serenity for youthful angst, insecurity, striving, & competitiveness? Been there done that! I rather cherish my role as a mentor of sorts to my own daughters (19 and 22), their friends and to my younger colleagues. This is a great time of life. One good message that came out of the 60s and 70s was to "be yourself." We were against pretense and phoniness. Now if that is message that someone wants to market, I'm all for it!
Keep on keeping on, Ronni!
Paula Bruggeman
Story Developer,
Matters of Magnitude
Retirement Living TV

There is something to all of this press. My son-in-law is taking a class now at a Florida university and one of his projects is to design or develope a product that would sell to the Boomer generation. Why would this be of interest to that age student. uh maybe MONEY....I certainly didn't think of old people and their needs when I was going to college!.....We are a media driven socity no doubt.

Ronni,I am reminded about your piece lumping all coaches into a single category and generalizing that everyone who has a coach is a fool and the whole field is a scam. I am saddened to think that you see no possibility in people's commitment to transform our culture's negative stereotypes and are trying to create a new vision of growing older. That is resignation or righteousness on your part at best and cynicism at worst. Shame on you. YOU have been an inspiration to many of us and created a lot of the awareness of aging so sorely needed given the demographics of the baby boom. Why insult those of us who are attempting to speak to the opportunity that our demographic strength creates and empower all of us to be responsible for the world as we age. I think you missed an opportunity to be a generous and wise leader here and instead have joined those who argue against transformational possibilities and poo-poo anyone who doesn't agree with you.

What bothers me about this entire conversation is the assumptions being made that ALL boomers grew up the exact same way and expect the same things.

Maybe it's an American thing but not all of us take notice of the 'Boomer' hype because we are busy living our lives the way we choose - the women's liberation movement didn't liberate me from anything, my grandmother took care of that and trust me, being born in 1909 she definitely was NOT a 'Boomer'.

Ageism, feminism, all the 'isms' is making the topic of growing older a running joke.

Either we get over what others 'think' they know about us, or we spend our lives doing exactly what the media wants us to believe we are. Born..1953.
Boomer? Who the heck cares?!

I think that many of the sites directed at boomers must be run by former cheerleaders. They are so rosy and bright and earnest. Yuk.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)