Sunday, January 19, 2020
I hate the phrase "Okay, boomer" but it's not why you think...
Before you discount this post, my millennial daughter cautiously gave me the go ahead…
I started med school at the age of 50. For the past seven years, nearly all of my friends and close colleagues have been millennials. That small, wonderful first group of us working together and supporting each other through anatomy, the random partners on overnight call when we’d stay up all night long and talk about really important stuff, and the comradery built in study groups while trying to make it through all of those grueling, ego-crushing Step exams. Through all of it, I grew to know and love my millennial colleagues. And even more importantly, I learned from them.
In millennials I saw what I would call a radical acceptance. It is a worldview that stresses empathy and inclusion. It is a way of approaching others that does NOT put people in categories or make generalizations. Instead it means not just accepting others and the many ways they may differ from us, but celebrating that difference. Race, ethnicity, gender, education, nationality, sexual orientation, income, religion, weight and more. It’s seeing and celebrating the person for the unique being that they are instead of putting them in a category and making assumptions about them. It is a refreshing world view. (I would add that from a Christian perspective this would be a way to approach others based on Jesus’ teaching of loving one’s neighbor. It makes me wonder what the church may be doing wrong to have turned so many millennials away from religion when in theory they share a similar worldview, but that’s a post for another day).
So why do I hate the phrase “Okay, boomer”? Because it goes against the radical acceptance that defines millennials. It places people of my age and older in a box, and makes pejorative assumptions about us. It makes me wonder if age might be the one category left that millennials may feel it is okay to make negative judgments about others with out knowing them.
I do think that some of boomer age discount millennials and all that they can offer. And I too hear statements from my cohort that I find deeply offensive. And these views must be challenged, especially when they limit the rights of others.
But instead of “Okay, boomer”, a better (more congruent) approach might be to identify the offensive behavior or characteristic and name that regardless of age. Not to lump all us 50+ year olds together and write us off as hopeless because of the number of years we’ve been on this planet. Because doing so goes against the greatest gift that the millennial generation has to offer—radical acceptance. And that includes age as well.
We are a country and world in dire need of the millenials transformative message.