Editor’s note: When Amy Tobin wrote this post, Have Boomers Lost their Voice? it sparked a great deal of discussion from our Boomer friends who had much to say on this topic. Sherree Worrell, one of our regular panellists on the Boomer Think Tank, was frustrated and very vocal as this topic had a profound impact from her experiences. We invited Sherree to share her views on this topic. It’s clear from what you’ll read that it provides a clear and well-articulated response to what the other generations and the marketing community have, themselves, stereotyped about Boomers. The next episode of Boomer Think Tank, hosted by Samantha Estoesta, will cover this very topic. Please stay tuned. ~Hessie Jones
Do Baby Boomers (Boomers) still have a voice?
I’ve done quite a bit of research and what I found says not really. In the general scheme of things, we’re irrelevant. Everyone (Millennials in particular) is mad at us, and wishes we would go away (or “just die off already.” I actually read an article with this title in a national publication).
The recession was the final nail that made us irrelevant. Every conversation since 2008 that revolves around jobs, marketing, education, advertising, etc., has focused more on Millennials. Boomers have been pushed aside and are now required to shoulder the blame for every little thing that has gone wrong (before, and) since.
Granted, some of the things that have gone wrong are absolutely due to the Boomer generation. As an example, look at those in government who are not sitting in the Executive Branch. We have a group of politicians – most of whom are boomers, making policy that stinks (my apologies if this offends anyone). Heck, I hate what they’re doing and I’m a Boomer. However, I believe this has more to do with a specific party than actual age. Regardless, most are Boomers.
In the 60s and 70s, we led the way in civil and women’s rights, and environmental causes. Without Boomers, there would be no EPA, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, or the Endangered Species Act.
Marketing and Advertising have forgotten about us
Boomers currently make up the largest generation with buying power, yet the Marketing and Advertising Industry literally reduced their budgets originally geared to Boomers, to market to Millennials. We just don’t matter anymore — to anyone.
I think part of the problem for the Marketing & Advertising industry, and for others, is the misconception that we are not tech savvy. While that might be a truer statement for the older Boomers, it is not true for the mid-to-late Boomers. If it weren’t for the Boomers, there would be no digital age. Innovation is not the sole property of GenXers or Millennials, but we’re treated as if we don’t have a brain or don’t understand how to use any new technological device or application that is sold or used.
Not all Boomers are created equal
Did you know there are actually two sets of Boomers — those born between 1945-1954 and those born 1955-1965? The later Boomers are the “Jones generation” of the group. The earlier Boomers are the ones who experienced the rush of wealth after the war. They have the pensions, more wealth, and if needed, the ability to collect social security.
Those of us in the later group had huge expectations placed on us while growing up in the ’60s (we had the “Keeping -up-with-the-Jones’” syndrome thrust upon us). What we ended up experiencing in the ’70s and ’80s were high inflation rates, an oil embargo, high unemployment rates and more. To be honest, we did not enjoy the same prosperity as the earlier Boomers, although we did have it better than many do now. Sadly, many mid-to-late Boomers do not have pensions and in many cases, do not have enough with which to retire, which is quite different than those from the earlier Boomer timeframe. I am not making excuses for any of the Boomers – it’s just a fact of history.
Boomers: the unintentional entrepreneurs
Finally, I am an unintentional business owner, as are thousands of other Boomers that were aged out of the job market between 2008-2011. I enjoyed working for small companies and I have a great resume. Yet, when the recession hit, my position was eliminated due to a merger, and I was too old to do the exact same thing before the bottom fell out.
Literally overnight, thousands of us were unemployable as much younger, less experienced people that just graduated college began to replace us. I don’t blame the younger job seekers; we became undesirables and cost cutting was the name of the game. We (Boomers and Millennials) were (and still are in some cases) competing for the same jobs, and the Boomers are striking out. Many Boomers never recovered from that, and in order to survive, many of us had to become business owners, in a recession, in a hurry. Thankfully, some of us are still in business.
It makes me sad because the mid-to-late Boomers still have a lot to give to society in terms of buying power, business and leadership, social awareness, and more. However, no one is interested.
Believe it or not, Boomers and Millennials actually have a lot in common. We’re in the same boat. We’re all struggling towards the same goals: employment, decent wages, a place to live, and the ability to have a decent life, regardless of our age. We should be helping one another not hoping one generation would “die already.”
Image source: takver
Sherree Worrell is the Founder and Managing Director of Tala Consulting Group — specializing in business and project management, and digital marketing for small business and start-ups. She lives on a farm in Northern California, blogs, loves to travel, and considers herself a *Grasshopper* in life.