Why Baby Boomers Refuse to Act Old


I had to chuckle. A doctor said in a news article that baby boomers cause problems because they refuse to admit they’re old. Although I was born near the end of the boomer generation, I will now present a defense of those who feel life’s winter winds blowing down their necks but insist on sporting summer wear.

We are the generation that overcame. In order to understand that, you need to know a bit of ancient history, say about 50 years’ worth.

Our world as young children was safe and secure. You could send a five-year-old alone around the corner to a Mom and Pop store in our community and know he was safe. All nurses wore white dresses and caps in the hospital; gas station attendants wore blue shirts and pants (yes, there actually were people who pumped your gas and checked your oil); ministers wore white shirts and ties in public, and moms dressed up to run errands in town. All men had short haircuts except the town bum. If you smoked a cigarette after school your parents would know about it before you got home. (No, I never did that.)

In short, our world was completely predictable and safe. We knew what to expect.

Then came the social revolution of the 1960s. Suddenly our school curriculum changed to include situation ethics (“what would you do if…”), sex and drug education, and bizarre courses with no practical application. Social scientists told our parents they needed to stop disciplining us because it would warp our psyches. Our predictable world changed at break-neck speed.

Young adults and teens had “love-ins” in public places like fountains in city squares. Walking across my university campus was an exercise in sex education, because students didn’t care what they did in public or who watched. The hippie culture hit like bricks and brought easy-accessible experimental drugs.

What had happened to the safe, predictable world of the baby boomer generation? It crumbled. Those with enough sense to stay out of the party scene overcame a lot, a huge cultural shift, to stay afloat.

Some unfortunate young people bought into the hype that there would be no consequences if they indulged in the things that had been taboo just a few years earlier. I pity them.

But I digress. We are the generation that overcame. We overcame a total shift in cultural norms; we survived waves of change. We became educated, held down jobs, bought homes and started families while those around us partied until they burnt out their brains.

So you want to know why we refuse to admit we’re old? It’s all about survival. The person who gives in and relaxes at the oars soon sinks..

So boomers aren’t about to admit they’re old. Call us older if you like, but we’re not old. And as long as we don’t look too closely at the mirror, we still can get away with it. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

What about you? Any comments from baby boomers or those observing them?