How Baby Boomer Culture Led To The Vegas Shooting And How Millennials Can Fix It

Millennial women at a protest
Unsplash / Alexa Mazzarello

I would like to express my condolences, but the truth is that I’m pissed.

What did that wealthy, white retired millionaire with a girlfriend and loving family even have to be so upset about? When a 20-year-old dies, we say he had his whole life ahead of him. Well, so did this 64-year-old: possibly more life ahead than the 20-year-old had already lived. He had the resources to do anything he wanted.

Was this some affluent existential crisis situation? Did he finally realize that the only thing keeping him from being happy was himself? Okay, but Willy Loman and Bojack Horseman never opened fire on a crowd of innocent people.

I’ve had some horrible thoughts in my head. I’ve been hesitant to share them.  Then again, they’re no worse than the generalizations that get made when Millennials commit atrocities.

To be perfectly honest, I think making the world a better place will get a lot easier once the Baby Boomers age out of political dominance.

The Boomers want to be revered for the cultural revolutions of the hippies and rock music.  So how come the only Boomers to become president were Clinton, George W Bush, and Trump? Were they really the cream of the crop? The epitome of the hippies’ dream? Remember, even the liberal Boomers wanted another Clinton, this time a former Walmart board member.

We can blame gun lobbyists for every tragedy, and rightly so. But on a deeper level, this government gridlock was made possible by a generational culture where calling someone out for being rude is considered worse than actually being rude.

Autism, ADD and anxiety diagnoses skyrocketed under Boomer culture. We don’t quite know the underlying causes, but it turns out that a lot of the most effective therapies for autism involve just sitting kids down and explaining cultural norms as many times as it takes for them to get it. You know, the way we did for thousands of years before the Boomers decided that teaching kids social rules was the same thing as stifling them. It’s easier to pathologize the kids who can’t instinctively navigate a nebulous culture than to admit that the culture is broken.

When the most sacred tenet of a generation is “Don’t tell me what to do,” profits will trump human lives every time. When a generation can’t unite around a culture anymore, because the culture they created still idolizes youth while they grow old, of course they’re going to unite around racism and nationalism — that’s how the culture looked in the good old days. But political correctness is the real problem, they say, and in their minds it’s probably true. The Boomers don’t want to harm outsiders, they just resent being asked to help, accommodate or respect them in any way.

“Hey, Trump is a pig and an idiot, but at least he made it okay to make fun of Mexicans again. How dare they come to this country and ask for handouts; I pulled myself up by my bootstraps! Well, my father did…when he used the GI Bill. I worked at his company for 40 years. He wanted me to take over and create new jobs, but I didn’t want to be tied down like that, man. You don’t see mom and pop stores like that anymore, such a shame. But Target’s having a sale — where’s my social security check?! Oh right, when I was rebelling against the system, I forgot to have enough kids to keep the system going. Can’t believe those ungrateful punks want universal healthcare and a living wage. They’re just killing Applebees out of spite.”

Does that caricature sting? Stop being such a snowflake. I was too busy playing violent video games and reading Facebook to learn empathy, anyway.

Boomer culture is so inherently selfish that many would rather die of preventable diseases than help the immigrants next door. They would rather protect their own gun collection than take responsibility for the lives of massacred children. Even liberals would rather blame the 24 hour news cycle for our divisive political climate than give their red-state brother a call.

Am I being harsh? Yes. Am I painting with a broad brush? Absolutely. Are there unselfish Baby Boomers? Undoubtedly.

But every time a 20-year-old commits an act of terror, the Boomer news stations are quick to diagnose it as a generational problem, blaming video games, social media, or the simple aggression of young men. We can’t dismiss this as “just a guy” gone crazy because his age group happens to be in power. We need to identify the generational culture of selfishness that made this atrocity possible by feeding his entitlement and by refusing to reform healthcare and gun control.

It’s the only way I can wrap my head around a wealthy man in his 60s choosing to murder 58 random people with automatic weapons while our billionaire president tells a crowd of starving Puerto Ricans that they’re hurting the economy.

The good news is that yes, we can still fix this. Maybe you are out of breath from yelling at your senator. Maybe you have done all you can and still feel helpless. Remember, we won’t be helpless for much longer. We can’t let the mindset of helplessness take over, no matter how much they wear us down.

Let’s encourage each other. Let’s actively think about what we value. Let’s make plans for how to pass our values on to the next generation, whether that means having kids, teaching, discovering, or creating.

Let’s reject the contradictory Boomer myths: that the most important part of a career is personal fulfillment, that art is just something irresponsible people do, that only people in stable jobs with benefits deserve to have families, that freelancing or starting a business is somehow not a “real” job. Let’s make society easier for the self-starters, the risk-takers, the dreamers. Let’s stop rewarding the corporate path of least resistance above all other means of employment: a society that rewards compliance is a society that can’t improve. Let’s celebrate professions that focus on helping others.

If you’re a Boomer who wants to help, try to do so in a way that doesn’t feed your own vanity or put you at the center. Remember when you said don’t trust anyone over 30? Well, how are we supposed to feel about your generation right now? Maybe it’s time to let the children lead the way. At the very least, please consider how insulting it is when you conflate a singular shooter with an entire generation, without taking obvious steps to prevent similar tragedies.

Culture is important. Respect is important. The collective good is important. And above all, kindness is important. It’s going to be our turn very soon. And we owe it to the world to do better. TC mark

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