The modern workplace entered a new phase a few years ago. For the first time in history, we have five generations working together under the same roof:
- Traditionalists—born before 1946.
- Baby Boomers—born between 1946 and 1964.
- Generation X—born between 1965 and 1976.
- Generation Y, or Millennials—born between 1977 and 1997.
- Generation Z—born after 1997.
Nearly half of the Millenials (Gen-Y) and all of Gen-Z have never experienced the current level of uncertainty in the world. The early half of the Millenials experienced the beginnings and aftermath of 2008 as they were already adults and part of the workforce. The latter half was approximately 21-22 years old when the financial crisis hit. Their adulthood was born at the bottom of the crisis. Gen-Z may only have faint whispers in their memories of the previous period that challenged us.
In late 2019, the meme “OK, boomer” was birthed into existence. It was brought into the Internet’s consciousness to dismiss and mock the attitudes and perspectives that some Millenials and Gen-Zers felt were held by the baby boomer generation. Yet, it may have been cast on the Boomers, but it was meant more as a statement to every previous generation.
The meme is an expected response from the Millenials. Previous generations have always complained about the following generations. As a Gen-Xer, I remember being cast with the stereotype of being a rebel slacker. We were expected to be unmanageable, lazy, and entitled. The Millenials are no exception as “the generation that’s fun to hate.” As a generation born of the Internet era, a meme to express their feelings was not only expected. It was the most Millenial response.
The back and forth between the generations may seem unfair. Maybe it is. It is also familiar and relatively normal. George Orwell summed it up. “Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than theone that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”
What does all of this have to do with today and the current world situation?
It’s time to think about how much these generations need each other right now. The Millenials and Gen-Z need the Boomers and Traditionalists to share their experiences dealing with crises that seem insurmountable and destabilizing of the normal. The Gen-Xers have been through one crisis in 2008, but most of us were barely more than young adults.
The Traditionalists and Boomers are the most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. They need the younger generations to sacrifice, realize our responsibility, and take precautions.
Ok, Boomer. We need you, and you need us.