Down and out

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Today we put a new spin on “down and out.” We’re not talking about being knocked out. We’re saying “down and out” is the way to go — the way we want you to focus, especially if you’re a boomer. Catch boomers need to go down and out.

This brilliant insight came from one of the millennial respondents to our recent “Your Participation Matters” questionnaire. The insight was directed towards boomers. In his observation, he said,

I know there are older people who might like me, and me them, but generally speaking, it appears older people naturally go up in age and inward in focus.  I do not think there is an intent in them to go downward in age and outward in focus.”

He’s absolutely right. As a boomer today, I want to go up (in age) and in (where it is comfortable) and I do not think I am alone.  As the world gets more and more chaotic and solutions seem to slip out of our grasp, the temptation is to go upward in age (meaning your age and older), and inward in terms of involvement, meaning protective, safe, more isolated; sticking to only what you know, around people you understand. 

Everyone finds it easier to relate to their own peers. You’ve gone through similar experiences — the same pop culture, the same world events, the same questions and concerns, you laugh at the same jokes. Boomers look at the world suffering from greenhouse gases, climate change, rising ocean levels, wildfires, water shortages, depleting fossil fuels, terrorism, QAnon, Antifa; no wonder you want to sock away your retirement and watch Netflix. 

But millennials look at the very same world and they have nowhere to go except to feel anxious and alone. This is the world they live in. This is their outlook, offering more questions than answers.

Can you believe Chandler wants to put us in a retirement home? That’s what he wants to do with his first fortune. He’s serious about this. I think that’s really sweet of him, and I am very moved that he would be thinking about our future like that.  But this is him speaking from his perspective, the way he sees life.  He wants to put us somewhere safe.  He wants us away from the destruction he sees.  

Along with older millennials, Chandler feels in tune with events around the world and recognizes his place in it.  When exploring this generations well-being—spiritually, professionally, relationally—our findings reveal a generation of driven adults who are wary and weary; wrestling with questions; longing for deeper relationships; and facing significant societal, professional and personal obstacles. Yet, we also found that faith is one important factor associated with their well-being, connection, and resilience. 

When — or, for many, if — us boomers choose to go downward in age and outward in scope, we need to enter into a relationship with millennials with sincerity.  They need concrete exchanges from people they can trust, and meaningful opportunities to contribute with each other, and maybe, within a community. 

If we boomers are willing to go downward in age and outward in focus, we will find millennials are full of questions, which is why we strongly recommended that we boomers do a lot of listening when entering into a relationship with a millennial.

So a word to the wise, boomers: Go down and out. Learn about millennials; put yourself into their shoes. Best of all, build relationships with them. Befriend them. Walk alongside. Listen. Understand the world from their perspective. You’ll be surprised to find how much you have in common.

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3 Responses to Down and out

  1. Gary Mintchell says:

    Your millennial friend has an accurate observation. I observe the same from the other side of the divide. Technically, I am an older boomer. In both my technology writing and my soccer involvement, I routinely relate only to younger people. So we move to be closer to our kids and where do we wind up? In an old people’s community. Bunch of complainers. I was the civil rights and peace guy. Don’t know what happened. But I live to encourage younger people. Keep them going, John!

  2. Toni Petrella says:

    Years ago we wanted older folks to understand us and many felt could not trust anyone over a certain age and it seems like its going in a circle but, these young folks need us now more than ever just like we wanted to be understood so long ago. Working at Nellis Lodging as a housekeeper at Nellis AFB I tend to talk to many folks very young and find it interesting and productive.

  3. John A Fagliano says:

    Where do young people get the idea that us boomers had it way better than they do now? Do we contribute to that? If so, why?
    Memory check: There was this terrible and controversial war that was killing our peers and dividing our nation…and it was dividing the generations. It was the hippies verses the older folks who were too out of it. Protests led to tragedies like the Kent State shootings. We saw Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy get assassinated just two months apart. We didn’t have climate change but we were concerned about the earth. Remember “The Lorax”. Remember Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” ,Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me”. And if you really want to talk pop culture, remember how “American Pie” connected with a generation that had lost hope. How did we survive? How did we make it through all that? Was it Jesus? Was it love that was more than a love-in?

    Fast forward to today where we have boomers saying dumb stuff like “When we were young we talked to each other, we didn’t look at our phones all day. We rode our bikes without helmuts we drank water from the hose blah blah blah” No wonder they started the expression “OK Boomer”

    The truth is boomers are the best generation millennials could have asked for to be the old folks to help them through this crisis weary world. We can relate because we’ve been there. We know the pain, anxiety, loneliness. We are victorious in Christ. Who better to hear that from! We of all people would know! Younger folks need to know there is hope for this troubled world. Those of us who have been though a lot should light the way.

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