steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Boomernormativity - a partial palinode

 Since my last post I’ve had another visit from Dame Splinter, who has objected – with some justice – that although I claimed I wasn’t criticizing boomers in general, in effect I did just that.

Having gibbered and flailed for the usual period, I have to admit that she has a point. I began that post with the intention of defining an exciting new concept and a wonderfully mellifluous neologism – boomernormativity – but some somehow in the middle of writing it I thought of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and let it run into a rant. Of course, it’s not really fair to blame boomers in general for the multiple hypocrisies and vile smugness of the New Tory Labour party. If many boomer lives have described a slow drift from idealism into materialism, that’s hardly unique to their generation: alas, it’s long been the way of the world. (Think of radical young Wordsworth feeling that the French Revolution was “bliss,” and crusty old Wordsworth writing sonnets against the abolition of capital punishment.) With the boomers the deleterious effects of that drift on others have been greater and the spectacle slightly more nauseating than usual, not so much because their fall was further or more culpable, but because of their very numbers. Arguably in fact they have been the victims of boomernormativity themselves. The attitudes of their younger days were so amplified by their numerousness that they couldn’t be dismissed as callow posturing, as those of their predecessors largely were, but came to define a decade and the boomer generation itself. And of course those attitudes have come back to haunt them, like some politician’s teenage diary sold on Ebay. 

The concept of boomernormativity itself I still stand by, however – and, like most normativities, I don’t like it. It’s still the case that the sentence “The late sixties were all about free love” sounds less ridiculous than “The late sixties were all about reaching retirement and finally taking the allotment in hand.” But why, when the latter sentence probably held true for as many people as the former? It’s this way of dividing the world into those whose perspectives count and those that don’t that I particularly dislike. It's something all we generalisers have a tendency to do, I guess, and all need to be alert to. Luckily I have Dame Splinter to stop me getting too comfortable - and for that I’m grateful. (Really, I am!) But boomernormativity still sucks, and I still think it provided fertile ground for many of the injustices I mentioned before to grow in.

If I may conclude my generalising career with a few real sweepers, though, I suspect that boomernormativity warped the world-view of both the boomers themselves and of my own generation, left sullen and resentful in their wake in a “Gods stand up for bastards!” kind of way. However, I notice that the people who are young now seem as a group to be fantastically sorted compared to their predecessors. The world-wide web has been their kindly nurse, and maybe they've learned some wisdom from it. They’re idealistic but realistic, quirky but grounded – and considering how royally they’re being screwed by their elders they’re remarkably unbitter. Perhaps the shadow of boomernormativity is finally lifting from the world?

By google, let us hope so.
Tags: maunderings
  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded