The boomer mentality goes like this: get a good education. Get a well-paying full-time job. Find a stable partner. Buy a house and a car. Preferably, have a child. Failing any stage of this process is a reflection of your self-worth and indicates a lack of moral fibre.
With regional variations, millennials have absorbed our parents’ world view. We consider these expectations reasonable, and we blame ourselves for not living up to them.
Of course, it’s all a trick. The global conditions that enabled a middle-class existence are evaporating, and are being replaced by an economic system whose function is the transfer of wealth to the lucky few.
The boomer mentality has an odd amount of sticking power considering it only briefly bore any relationship to reality. For thousands of years, wealth has been concentrated in the hands of a select few, who have used this power to exploit and oppress everyone else. The economist Thomas Piketty writes that in all known societies, the bottom 50% of the population has owned virtually nothing.
Globally, this is still true today. The situation grows ever worse. Knowing this about human history, it seems profoundly delusional for the boomers, a generation permitted a fleeting taste of a dignified existence, to believe this occurred because of their superior work ethic.
Yet this is what boomers want us to think, and we oblige. Never mind that none of it is true. Never mind that believing these toxic fictions is making young people sick, sad and hopeless. Never mind that this is exactly the same process that causes poor people of all ages to believe they are at fault for their poverty.
And never mind that the point of this ideology is to discipline young people’s behaviour through weaponised self-loathing. Instead of demanding better, we engage in futile competition over crumbs. Instead of questioning why life often feels meaningless, why we feel so alienated and inadequate, we turn these beliefs inward. Instead of using this shared experience to build solidarity with each other, we feel shame.
Eleanor Robertson, Why are the Baby Boomers Desperate to make Millennials Hate Ourselves
I’m not a millennial. I’m at the tail-end of Generation X and my parents were war babies. So this doesn’t apply to me directly, but there are important points made here I think.