Quick Tips! Okay, Boomer.

Videos November 19, 2019

In this Quick Tips! video, Dr. Pam Cox-Otto, CEO of Interact, provides insight on generational differences (and explains why Millenials have a right to be cranky).


Hi, all. I’m coming to you from Wisconsin where we’ve had our first snow of the year, and all I can tell you is I wish I were in San Diego. I want to talk to you today about a couple of things having to do with generational shifts we’ve been noticing, and you’ll find it useful, I think, in both office and home as you head to the holidays to meet with older family members and younger family members. A little bit of an understanding goes a long way. So, here’s some things you should know. First of all, Gen Y, the generation who are late-20s to mid-30s, are a little cranky with boomers—I’ll talk about that in a minute—and there’s a very good reason for that. The reason is, quite honestly, that they have more degrees than either boomers or Xers had at this point in their life, and yet they are making 20% less money than their seniors did.

They don’t think that’s fair, and frankly, well, we shouldn’t either. So, 40% of them have degrees compared to only 30% of boomers and Gen Xers. All of that adds up to they’ve worked very hard and they’re getting much less for that effort. So when you hear faculty and staff talking about how the younger generation doesn’t know how to work, well, you know, there’s a simple thing you should say to them, and this is the second part. There’s a phenomenon called right now, “OK, boomers.” And what that means is when somebody, usually older than you, says something that’s particularly tone-deaf, like, “That Greta, she ought to go back to Sweden, ‘cause what’s she doing gallivanting about in the world?” Right? The answer is, “OK, boomers.” And what that means is here we are in the middle of a global climate change crisis, at least if you believe that we’re in the middle of that, and she’s running around basically trying to talk people into saving the world, and people are upset because she’s not home in Sweden? That’s kind of an interesting tone-deaf.

But it happens in other things as well, when people talk about how people don’t work as hard as boomers did in their youth or how, “These kids, they have it easy. Why are they complaining?” The answer is, “OK, boomer.” In fact, there was a news piece yesterday that a young elected official in Australia was doing public testimony, and somebody basically stood up and started yelling complaints about, “That’s not right. That’s not this. That’s not that.” Then she responded, “OK, boomer.” That’s a thing, and if you go up to some of the kind of social media sites, you’re going to see it’s becoming more of a thing. And what it’s telling us is that the older generation is a little bit out of touch with what’s going on among younger generations, and they’re not wrong. So… I’m going to be doing more things in the future about generational change, and I hope you’ll join me when we talk a little bit more of that. In the meantime, two things to remember: Gen Y has a reason that they’re cranky, and boomers…well, OK.