I know what you’re thinking. You’re sitting there at your computer or on your phone and you’re thinking, “Hey, I wonder what music they were playing at Kmart while people were Christmas shopping in 1974?” Well, here you go.
2017: For Vulture I gave my list for the best “non-Christmas Christmas movies” (the ones that aren’t Die Hard).
2015: For The Saturday Evening Post I wrote a defense of Christmas music. (By the way, until December 4 you can get an entire year of the print Saturday Evening Post plus access to our archive going back to 1821 for only $9!)
Also in 2015: I created a playlist of some of my favorite Christmas songs (one of these days I’ll do a new list, with an embedded player).
2012: A post about the ever-growing scourge of people who are constantly on their phones at the holiday dinner table. (It’s even worse now.)
Talking about politics at Thanksgiving: 0
Watching football on Thanksgiving: 2
Watching that Friends Thanksgiving episode where they play football: 10
Pumpkin pie: 9
Homemade apple pie: 8
Table Talk apple pie: 10
The movie Pi: 7
Cornbread stuffing: 9
Oatmeal and sausage stuffing: 9
Stove Top stuffing: 10
Green bean casserole: 8
Eating fish on Thanksgiving: 0
Stores being open on Thanksgiving: 0
Black Friday store shopping: 0
Black Friday online shopping: 9
Christmas music before Thanksgiving: 10
People who complain about Christmas music before Thanksgiving: 2
An odd thing happened to me at the supermarket yesterday. That’s not uncommon. Most of the odd things that happen to me happen at the supermarket, from a store clerk laughing at my bald head to almost being run over by a robot.
I was the victim of a meme. I was at the register, buying my Lean Cuisine Spicy Korean Beef dinners, pistachios, and Metamucil, among other things. It was my turn so I pulled out my debit card and inserted it into the slot. The kid at the register – the gregarious type that makes jokes and tries to wow you with a piece of trivia he thinks no one else knows (“Frankenstein was the name of the doctor, not the monster!”) – tells me that I no longer have to insert the card, I can just wave the chip over the sensor on the screen and it will read it automatically. I didn’t know this – must be a recent change by my bank – but I told him it was fine because I had already inserted the card, and really, how much time do you save, a button push or two?
He laughed and said “OK, Boomer.”
I must say I was impressed by the reference. You don’t often see people using internet memes – at least until they’re fully embedded into the mainstream – IRL so I was pleasantly surprised that he not only knew the meme but also assumed that I would know it too.
But he also assumed I was a Boomer, which I’m not. I said to him “OK, Millennial.” He looked to be around 18 or 20. “Ha! I’m not a Millennial.” I told him I know that but I’m not a Boomer. He smiled, one of those “you may not be a Boomer but you’re the age of my parents if not older so you’re old” smiles.
I’m glad the guy didn’t see my flip phone.
I probably should be happy that Generation X is hardly ever pulled into these arguments. It’s always the younger people (Millennials, Gen Z, Xennials) vs. the Boomers. X has become the Lost Generation, which is not a name that will stick because there already was a Lost Generation. There will come a day when X gets pushed up in the order, as we get older, and the younger generations will blame us for a future where Medicare is dead and Netflix costs $300 a month.
I don’t particularly think that young people are lazy and entitled, the common complaint about them. I just think their view of the world is askew, and I’m more irritated by their complete lack of interest in anything that happened before Saved by the Bell premiered. I hate how they never knew an analog world without the web, smartphones, and emojis, how they’re aware that world existed before them but it’s just not important anymore. I hate how they assume that quicker is better than slower, digital is better than analog, new is better than old. I hate how they think “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” should be banned – or even worse, remade into a ghastly “woke” version – because they think it’s about sexual abuse, how it’s “dated,” how “times have changed” and no one today condones what the song is about (even though the song isn’t even about what critics think it’s about).
I hate how they’re angry about how billion-dollar corporations control everything, but they’ll happily share that anger on Facebook, while using their iPhone to take a picture of their fast-food lunch that they’ll post on Instagram, after which they’ll jump into their car (which uses gas!), on their way to see the new Disney-produced superhero movie. I hate how they’ll release a song with the line “It’s funny you think I respect your opinion, when your hairline looks that disrespectful,” not just because I don’t have much hair but because they think the line makes sense.
I dumped on my share of older people when I was in my teens and twenties (sorry), but I don’t remember being this dismissive and clueless. I turned 20 in 1985 and was into The Police, but I knew who The Andrews Sisters were. I was obsessed with not littering but I never blamed my mother for pollution. I voted for Dukakis but didn’t freak out against those who voted for Bush. I had hair and a flat stomach and didn’t have to wear my glasses all the time but I was absolutely aware that there would come a day when all that would change. We came after the Boomers but I don’t remember anyone having this across-the-board, daily generational warfare (thanks social media), aside from a few op-eds in the weekly mags and that “don’t trust anyone over 30” line, which in retrospect is equally silly.
The NYT article linked above says, “Teens say ‘OK, Boomer’ is the perfect response because it’s blase’ but cutting. It’s the digital equivalent of an eye roll.” Ah. In other words, it’s a verbal emoji. Aren’t they just participating in the same dismissive attitude they say they hate from those older than they are? (I anticipate someone in the comments below will respond to this post with a simple “OK, Boomer,” and they’ll find it oh so clever.)
I’d like to think that the phrase is more than that, that it’s a short but effective way of looking at political and social differences. But there’s nothing left or right about it, there’s nothing conservative or liberal about it (at least not with everyone), there’s no articulation about policy. It’s just about age, a “talk to the hand” for the younger set, a way not to talk about problems because the young always know better. They can say it’s shorthand for “establishment,” but I think that’s a bad strategy (and just wait until these young people get older – they’ll be begging to become part of the “establishment”).
I have a secret I want to pass on to younger people, if I may risk sounding condescending. You have it really good right now. We have massive problems, yes, but the world is safer, cleaner, more gender and racially diverse, and you carry a supercomputer in your pocket (invented by those older generations).
The reason why people of the generation just before mine dislike “OK, Boomer” is that it quickly and automatically assumes that anything older than the current younger generation and how they think has to be wrong, dumb, ineffective, and out of touch (even though older generations protested against wars and for equality too…and without hashtags!). It’s sort of the default position that younger people start from now. At least when older people complain about younger people we’re looking back, doing it the way older generations have always done it, with the knowledge and wisdom that comes with age, experience, and mistakes. Another quote from the NYT piece: “Everybody in Gen Z is affected by the choices of the boomers, that they made and are still making. Those choices are hurting us and our future. Everyone in my generation can relate to that experience and we’re really frustrated by it.”
To translate: I really can’t tell you what the Boomers “did” exactly but they’re old and I have a lot of student loan debt and the polar ice caps are melting and wow you still wear a wristwatch LOL!
Dismissive? Maybe. But it’s earned. You understand more about life when you reach the age when you have to buy Metamucil.
Here’s what we have in the new issue of The Saturday Evening Post (yes, you should subscribe!):